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Jay-Z accuses photographer of infringing his image rights

By | Published on Wednesday 16 June 2021


Jay-Z is suing the photographer who shot the cover of his debut album ‘Reasonable Doubt’. The rapper accuses Jonathan Mannion of infringing his image rights by selling copies of that photograph and others on his website

“Mannion has developed a highly-profitable business by selling copies of photographs of Jay-Z”, claims the lawsuit. “Mannion has done so on the arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases. But Jay-Z never gave Mannion the right to use his likeness for these or any other purposes. And without that permission, Mannion has no legal right to do so”.

The lawsuit also claims that Mannion has licensed the images to third parties, also without express permission. It says that “Jay-Z has asked Mannion to stop, but he refuses to do so”, and instead is demanding “tens of millions of dollars to put an end to Mannion’s use of Jay-Z’s likeness”.

Mannion sells prints of various images featuring the rapper via his website (not to mention pictures of other rappers he has worked with).

In most countries, the default owner of the copyright in a photograph is the photographer, unless otherwise agreed. Whether or not the subject of a photo has to give consent for an image to be published or commercialised varies from country to country, with laws covering privacy, and publicity or image rights, often coming into play too, as in this case here, where Jay-Z is enforcing the latter.

In a statement to TMZ, a rep for Mannion says: “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”.

Jay-Z is seeking damages and an injunction to stop Mannion from continuing to use the images.