Jay Z files lawsuit against photographer Jonathan Mannion over ‘likeness dispute’

Jay-Z is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction that would expect Mannion to quit utilising his likeness

Peony Hirwani@peony_hirwani
Wednesday 16 June 2021 11:25
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Jay Z and Beyonce perform at the London Stadium

Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against photographer Jonathan Mannion, accusing him of exploiting and profiting off the rapper’s likeness by selling his photos without permission.

According to documents obtained by Rolling Stone, the 51-year-old rapper – real name is Shawn Corey Carter – hired the hip-hop photographer in 1996 to shoot the cover for “Reasonable Doubt” during which he clicked “hundreds of photographs” of the rapper.

The legal action states that Mannion was compensated for his work and that Carter never gave him “permission to resell any of the images”.

“Nor did Jay-Z authorise Mannion to use his name, likeness, identity, or persona for any purpose,” the lawsuit states.

Therefore, as Mannion was never given permission to sell Carter’s photos, the suit claims that “Mannion has no legal right to do so”.

Additionally, when the “Empire State of Mind” singer asked the photographer to stop using his images, he refused and in return “demanded that Jay-Z pay him tens of millions of dollars to put an end to Mannion’s use of Jay-Z’s likeness”.

According to TMZ, Carter said that Mannion is making an “arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases”.

Reports also state that the photographer “prominently displays a photograph of Jay-Z” on his website's homepage and sells “Fame Wall” t-shirts, which “displays Jay-Z’s name… above other well-known artists that Mannion has photographed”.

The suit claims violation of a California Civil Code for allegedly “misappropriating and using for commercial purposes Jay-Z’s name, likeness, identity, and persona without permission” and “violating California common law regarding rights of publicity”.

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Jay Z - Reasonable Doubt

The “Picasso Baby” singer is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction that would expect Mannion to quit utilising his likeness in addition to unspecified damages.

On 15 June, a representative of the 50-year-old photographer told TMZ: “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.”

The representative likewise referenced that “the First Amendment protects Mr Mannion’s right to sell fine art prints of his copyrighted works” and that they will review the complaint and respond in “due course”.

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