Jay-Z is suing renowned photographer Jonathan Mannion over some classic flicks from early in his career. It seems Hova isn’t too happy about millions of dollars being made from his likeness if he isn’t getting a cut.
The Brooklyn mogul filed a lawsuit accusing Mannion of profiting off his likeness without his permission. Mannion famously shot the cover and artwork for Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt. He’s gone on to shoot the covers of a lot of Jay-Z albums actually, including The Blueprint. And then when you throw in other artists (and not mention magazine shoots), the famed photographers credits are in the hundreds if not thousands.
Apparently, Mannion has been making coins selling images of Jay-Z on his website, which the Brooklyn rapper claims amounts to exploitation.
“Jay-Z never gave Mannion permission to resell any of the images,” reads the lawsuit reads “Nor did Jay-Z authorize Mannion to use his name, likeness, identity, or persona for any purpose.”
The suit also claims that Jay-Z asked Mannion to stop selling the photos, but Mannion refused. It goes further to say that Mannion demanded “tens of millions of dollars” to stop selling the flicks.
Many are pointing to a factually inaccurate sentence in the lawsuit as the jig, no pun. It reads that it’s “ironic that a photographer would treat the image of a formerly-unknown Black teenager, now wildly successful, as a piece of property to be squeezed for every dollar it can produce. It stops today.”
However, when Reasonable Doubt was released, Jay-Z was already 26 years old. And if we’re going to keep it a bean, Jay-Z is reportedly a billionaire, who just copped another billionaire a Bentley. But Jay-Z is notoriously protective of his likeness and intellectual property, so this really shouldn’t raising eyebrows, all things considered.
Mannion’s legal reps issued the following statement: “Mr. Mannion has created iconic images of Mr. Carter over the years, and is proud that these images have helped to define the artist that Jay-Z is today. Mr. Mannion has the utmost respect for Mr. Carter and his body of work, and expects that Mr. Carter would similarly respect the rights of artists and creators who have helped him achieve the heights to which he has ascended. We are confident that the First Amendment protects Mr. Mannion’s right to sell fine art prints of his copyrighted works, and will review the complaint and respond in due course.”
It’s going to be interesting if and when the public takes a look at their original photography agreement and what rights Jay-Z and Mannion actually have regarding the photos in question. There are often different nuances depending on who commissions the shoot (a record label, publication or privately, for example) and what the parties agreed to contractually.
What’s definitive is that it’s a shame that these longtime collaborators have arrived at a lawsuit. Let us know what you think in the comments.