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Who says you can’t knock the hustle?
Jay-Z is taking legal action against legendary hip-hop photographer Jonathan Mannion, accusing the behind-the-camera creative of “exploiting” his name and likeness without his consent.
In the lawsuit, the 51-year-old Grammy winner alleges Mannion, 50 — who captured the iconic album cover art of Jay-Z’s 1996 debut studio album “Reasonable Doubt,” which featured groundbreaking tracks “Can’t Knock the Hustle” and “Dead Presidents II” — has been unlawfully profiting off of his image.
Jay-Z says Mannion has raked in thousands of dollars by plastering his picture all over his website and selling the prints for big bags of money.
“Jay-Z never gave Mannion permission to resell any of the images,” according to the legal documents obtained by Vulture. “Nor did Jay-Z authorize Mannion to use his name, likeness, identity, or persona for any purpose.”
The controversial black-and-white snapshot shows a dapper Jay-Z — real name Shawn Carter — dressed in a coal-colored suit, accessorized with a cream silk scarf, and tipping his hat with a cigar laced between his fingers.
In his complaint, the Brooklyn-born emcee claimed he privately requested that Mannion cease all use of his likeness prior to pursuing litigation. But, Mannion allegedly refused, and “demanded that Jay-Z pay him tens of millions of dollars to put an end to Mannion’s use of Jay-Z’s likeness,” Rolling Stone reported.
Jay-Z is now seeking an injunction against Mannion, demanding the consummate cameraman — who has snapped classic shots of pop culture megastars Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj and Snoop Dogg — discontinue use of his name and image, as well as pay out “compensatory damages.”
The “99 Problems” creator’s court papers go on to note 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.”
However, despite Jay-Z’s use of the term “teenager” in his suit, the rapper was 26 years old when he hired Mannion to snap his EP picture in 1996.
Reps for Jay-Z have thus far not responded to requests for comment.
However, in response to the legal static with Beyoncé’s husband, Mannion appears to be leaning on the First Amendment as his defense.
“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 photographer’s legal representative said in a statement.
“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 lawyer continued.
“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.”
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