Jay-Z Slaps 'Reasonable Doubt' Album Cover Photographer With Lawsuit for Profiting Off His Likeness

The 'Empire State of Mind' hitmaker, who hired Jonathan Mannion in 1996, claims in the lawsuit that Mannion sells his pictures and merchandise without his permission.

AceShowbiz - Jay-Z has launched a legal action against "Reasonable Doubt" album cover photographer. Claiming that Jonathan Mannion has profited off his likeness, the "Empire State of Mind" hitmaker sues him in a lawsuit.

The 51-year-old, whose real name is Shawn Carter, reportedly also sues Mannion's company, Jonathan Mannion Photography LLC. In court documents filed on Tuesday, June 15, the hip-hop mogul stated that Mannion is "exploiting" his name and images without his consent and earning thousands of dollars from them.

"Mannion has developed a highly-profitable business by selling copies of photographs of JAY-Z on Mannion's website and retail store, and by selling licenses to others to use JAY-Z's image," the complaint read. "Mannion has done so on the arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases."

It added, "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. JAY-Z has asked Mannion to stop, but he refuses to do so." The husband of Beyonce Knowles also alleged that Mannion, whom he hired back in 1996, asked him to pay "tens of millions of dollars to put an end to Mannion's use of [his] likeness."

"It is no secret that JAY-Z has achieved iconic success, not just as a rap artist and record-company mogul, but in numerous other pursuits and as a businessman," the suit continued to read. "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."

According to the lawsuit, Mannion has sold T-shirts on his website that use Jay-Z's name as well as slipmats. The photographer also continues to display the rapper's photo and name on the frontpage of his website. Thereby, Mannion has been accused of violating section 3344 of the California Civil Code and California Common Law Right of Publicity.

Mannion himself has reacted to the lawsuit via his representative. "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 representative said in a statement to the press.

"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 rep further noted. "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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