Jay-Z Sues Reasonable Doubt Photographer for Exploiting Hov’s Name and Image
UPDATE (June 15):
Jonathan Mannion's attorney has provided a statement to XXL this afternoon regarding Jay-Z's recently filed lawsuit.
"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," the statement reads. "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.
Mannion's lawyer adds: "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."
Over two decades ago, Jay-Z hired New York City-based photographer Jonathan Mannion to shoot the cover for his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, back in 1996. Fast-forward 25 years, and Hov is suing Mannion for exploitation stemming from images from that same photoshoot.
According to legal documents filed on Tuesday (June 15) and obtained by XXL today, the Roc Nation boss is suing Jonathan Mannion and his company, Jonathan Mannion Photography, LLC, over claims that Mannion is utilizing Jigga's name and image without his permission. Jay has also accused the famed photographer of having the rapper's name all over his website and selling images of Hov for thousands of dollars.
"The amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75,000," the suit reads.
Additionally, Jay-Z claims that he never gave Mannion permission to use his images. In fact, when Jay asked Mannion to stop using his photos, the photographer allegedly demanded tens of millions of dollars. The photographer has reportedly refused to stop selling the images.
Jigga has also accused Mannion of making an "arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases."
When Mannion took the pictures of Hov in the mid-1990s, the lauded rapper says the photographer took hundreds of photos at the time. Back then, Jay's label, Roc-A-Fella Records, used some of the images for Jay-Z's first album and compensated Mannion for them.
Jay additionally claims that Mannion uses images of Jigga on the main page of his website where the hip-hop photog sells Jay-Z pictures and merchandise. However, Jay notes that he is very strict about the use of his "name, likeness, identity and persona," which he did not give Mannion permission to use for himself.
On JonathanMannion.com, there are currently prints of Jay-Z listed at a price of $50. Images include the Reasonable Doubt portrait of Jay-Z in a suit, wearing a wide-brimmed hat with his head bent down and holding a cigar.
Hov adds that it is "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."
Jay-Z's lawsuit against Jonathan Mannion is to immediately cease the selling of pictures of the rapper and to receive any profits that Mannion has made from the Brooklyn-bred rhymer's likeness.
XXL has reached out to Jay-Z's legal team and Jonathan Mannion for a comment on this matter.
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