PetaPixel

Photographer Finds Work Used on Vehicle Inspection Stickers in Texas

A Texas-based photographer named David Langford received quite a surprise earlier this year when his friend tipped him off about a photo of his being used on vehicle registration inspection stickers in Texas. Turns out an estimated 4.5+ million stickers used a silhouette created from a photo of his from 1984 titled “Days End 2″. Langford is now suing the state to stop further use of his photo on the stickers — designed by prison inmates as part of a contract between the Department of Criminal Justice and the Department of Public Safety — and to collect damages and attorney fees.

Suit centers on silhouette cowboy (via The Online Photographer)


 
  • Basbeeky

    if I were him, I should have asked 1 dollar for each sticker printed…!

  • Patrick

    I’ll go with 25 cents. That’s probably more realistic!

  • Barroba

    There are over 7,000,000 registered private vehicles in Texas… At a nickel per sticker, that would be 360,000 dollars, and he’ll probably go for a quarter or more…

  • rbciu

    I don’t think the State of Texas is doing anything wrong. While the silhouette clearly came from his picture, this sort of derivative work is not protected by US copyright law.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/103(b).html

  • Anonymous

    It’s not like the ‘article’ was even long to read man.

    “Turns out an estimated 4.5+ million stickers used a silhouette created from a photo of his from 1984 titled “Days End 2″”

  • http://twitter.com/Drac0Linux Keith Conley

    I am interested to see how this turns out. I’ve been trying to find good examples of what makes a work a derivative work vs. copyright infringement.

    In my opinion, I believe the photographer is well within his rights to sue for the image because a silhouette isn’t a significant enough change, especially when the original picture is a silhouette in the first place!

    To quote a snipit from http://definitions.uslegal.com/d/derivative-work/
    “By definition, derivative works are substantially similar to the original work because a work is not derivative unless it has been substantially copied from a prior work. The Copyright Act defines a derivative work as “a work based upon one or more preexisting works.” A derivative work is non-infringing if it is created pursuant to the consent of the copyright owner of the underlying work, or if it is based on a work in the public domain.”

    The important part of that paragraph is, “A derivative work is non-infringing if it is created pursuant to the consent of the copyright owner of the underlying work, or if it is based on a work in the public domain.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QSIT5TFKZYFLIZPFK2IMLZHSDE Tyler Webb

    There goes that inmates good behaviour release!

  • Jerry Davis

    I hope that before he leaped into a lawsuit he at least asked for fair compensation, and was then denied. I’m sick to death of this sue-crazy society.

  • Jerry Davis

    I hope that before he leaped into a lawsuit he at least asked for fair compensation, and was then denied. I’m sick to death of this sue-crazy society.

  • Jim

    For the record, the sticker is NOT a vehicle registrations sticker… it is a safety inspection certificate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548617804 Leanne Franson

    You’re absolutely wrong there. This isn’t derivative at all. It is the exact silhouette photo with the background removed. The kind of thing that the State of Texas would pay a photographer rights for using.

  • Sfaulk

    I agree with Leanne, this is a blatant theft.
    Man, I live in texas and about two months ago I thought to myself, wow I wonder who took the photograph used for my registration sticker, it’s pretty cool.
    Ha, and here I am reading this. People think they know copyright law. If an image or an image likeness is used there should be royalties, end of story. State of Texas what were you thinking. Oh well.
    PS, one way to police this kind of thing happening would be to have the printer ask for receipts of all image licenses before printing. because if you ask me the printer is just as liable. The print company is getting paid right, they should have some responability for what they do, don’t ya think.

  • Readm99ca

    Hurry !!! Put many of your photos on internet and hope someone somewhere use it and sue !!!

    This whole thing is getting creasy ! With internet, unless you clearly state that your photos or other are copyrighted, forget about it ! Internet is a free for all place …you put it on internet for people to see and use and if you want to keep your photos protected then don”t put it on the internet.

  • http://twitter.com/suprspi suprspi

    A bit disingenuous. Yes, if you put something on the internet, someone will copy it. That’s basically an assumption, but most of those uses are minor, and not worth litigation. I’m a photographer, all my work is copyright upon creation, and more easily enforceable when registered with copyright offices.

    The State of Texas probably pays out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars per year as fees to creative people as well as licensing for images. Whether you like it or not, they *do* know better. They pay people to know better.

    Professional photographers make their living (that means putting food on their table) from licenses like these. This is one case where litigation is not just a “sue crazy nation” but the real reason that the ability to bring someone to court and say “They cheated me” exists. Any payout to the photographer in this case is justified. In my humble opinion.

  • Eddie Smith

    if you read the article it was taken from an magazine where usage was paid for. he has sold this image multiple times and is a long term income generator. He also states had he been contacted beforehand they would likely have come to terms ina bout 5 minutes. he’s well within his rights to sue and I hope he’s very well compensated in the end including punitive damages.
    Also putting on the web does not mean it’s free to use, though lot’s of people treat it as such copyright always resides with the content creator unless they have sold the copyright or produced under terms of a contract (ie newspaper photographers on salary who give up rights frequently as part of their compensation package )

  • Nospam

    Is it really a surprise that a convict serving a sentence might steal an image? It wouldn’t take much due diligence by the State to vett the image before using it. http://www.tineye.com

  • kats

    Judith? Judith Griggs, is that you?

  • http://www.TxDMV.gov KSL Perkes

    Oops. The headline is a little misleading on this story. It’s the “Inspection Sticker” not the Registration Sticker. Total different state agency has the Registration Sticker.

  • http://www.TxDMV.gov KSL Perkes

    Hey All, a little mix-up on the stickers: The issue is with the state Inspection Sticker and not the Registration Sticker. Two different state agencies: DPS does Inspection while TxDMV does Registration. Noticed the Twitter nation is associating the issue with the wrong state agency. Would appreciate a little fix to keep everything accurate. Thanks so much.

  • http://twitter.com/Basbeeky Bas ter Beek

    I know this is an old topic, but does anyone know if the man got his money?

  • Friend of the photographer

    I know you don’t know me from Adam, but yes, my wife and I are friends of him and his wife.  He made numerous offers to settle, yet the state refused.  After the suit was filed, the state settled.  The amount was according to a published schedule for such use of a copyrighted image.