Why Jay-Z Is Suing Photographer Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against the photographer who shot the iconic cover photo for his 1996 Reasonable Doubt debut album.

The rapper—whose given name is Shawn Corey Carter—is suing Jonathan Mannion for "exploiting" his likeness without permission.

Court documents obtained by music website Pitchfork state that the "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" hitmaker is seeking an injunction to prevent Mannion from using his name and likeness.

The 51-year-old billionaire is also seeking "compensatory damages, consequential damages, lost profits, and/or disgorgement of Mannion's profits."

The complaint was filed in a California court on June 15. It reads: "Mannion's use of JAY-Z's name, likeness, identity, and persona was, and is, in conscious disregard of JAY-Z's right of privacy and publicity, and of his exclusive right to control the use and exploitation of his name, likeness, identity, and persona."

Jay-Z attends the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs on January 25, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against Jonathan Mannion for "exploiting" his likeness without permission. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The lawsuit claims that Mannion sells prints of Jay-Z for thousands of dollars and uses images of the rapper on his website without the latter's consent.

"Jay-Z never gave Mannion permission to resell any of the images," the lawsuit reads. "Nor did Jay-Z authorize Mannion to use his name, likeness, identity, or persona for any purpose."

The documents claim that Jay-Z asked the photographer to stop selling the photos but Mannion refused.

According to Vulture, the lawsuit also states that 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."

Mannion was reportedly hired by Jay-Z in 1996, when the rapper was 26.

A legal representative for Mannion provided a statement to Pitchfork in response to the lawsuit.

It reads: "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.

"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."