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Photographer Says State Stole His Art for Inspection Sticker

Texas inspection sticker compared with David Langford photograph "Day's End 2"
Images provided by David K. Langford and Texas DPS.
Photographer David K. Langford says his photograph (pictured right) was inadvertently stolen by the Texas Department of Public Safety for a vehicle inspection sticker (left).

A photographer from Boerne, a town of 10,000 about 90 miles southwest of Austin, is suing the Texas Department of Public Safety over the art used on more than 4 million inspection stickers.  David K. Langford says the image on the sticker was stolen from one of his photographs, "Days End 2".

The story was first reported this morning in the San Antonio Express-News. In an interview with KUT News, Langford said he was annoyed the state has refused to negotiate with him and avoid a lawsuit.

"Listen, I'm proud to be a Texan and I love the state of Texas," Langford told KUT News. "I cannot imagine how we could not have reached a business-like solution to this."

Langford's lawyer Jimmy Carter says open records requests he filed with DPS show the image was scanned by a prison inmate from a Parks & Wildlife Magazine in 1998, and then entered into a clip art database.

The image wound up on a Texas vehicle inspection sticker used in 15 counties. The Express-News says the counties are Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Johnson, Kaufman, Montgomery, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Waller.

"We just want him to get fair payment for his work," Carter told KUT News. He declined to say what that payment should be. You can read and download a copy of the lawsuit here.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.