JAY-Z is taking the photographer behind his debut album cover art to court, amid allegations of unauthorised use of his likeness.
The rap mogul hired Jonathan Mannion to shoot the iconic black-and-white cover of his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt, which has since gone on to become a hip-hop classic.
The snapper took hundreds of images during the session, with officials at JAY-Z’s then-label, Roc-A-Fella Records, paying Mannion for the use of the pictures selected.
However, the Empire State of Mind hitmaker claims Mannion has since been trying to profit off of the remaining images without his permission, selling the shots via his company website, Jonathan Mannion Photography LLC, where JAY-Z’s name and likeness are prominently displayed.
According to California legal papers obtained by TMZ, the hip-hop superstar claims he previously approached Mannion and asked him to stop using his image, but the photographer allegedly only agreed to do so if he was paid tens of millions of dollars.
Now JAY-Z, real name Shawn Carter, is taking the case to court, arguing Mannion, who is white, is making an “arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases”.
In the documents, he goes on to note, “(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.”
JAY-Z, who is known for strictly controlling how and when his name and likeness can be used, is demanding an injunction to halt Mannion from continuing to sell the photos, while he also wants the photographer to hand over any profits made from the old shots.
Mannion has yet to comment on the lawsuit.