JAY-Z Settles Lawsuit With ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Photographer


JAY-Z has reached a settlement in his lawsuit against Jonathan Mannion, the photographer behind some of his most iconic album covers including Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life and The Blueprint.

Hov sued Mannion and his company Jonathan Mannion Photography, LLC in June 2021 over claims the photographer was profiting off his name, image and likeness without permission.

The complaint specifically cited prints of the Roc Nation mogul that Mannion was selling via his website for thousands of dollars. When asked to stop selling the photos, Mannion allegedly demanded tens of millions of dollars.

The case was due to go to trial in March after the two parties had initially failed to negotiate a settlement agreement, but it seems a resolution has since been reached and the case will no longer go to court.

According to court documents obtained by AllHipHop, JAY-Z and Mannion have asked a judge to vacate the trial, indicating they’ve agreed to settle. The docs state the former collaborators have been working “diligently” toward finalizing a settlement and have until February 17 to submit the necessary paperwork.

“Parties have engaged in settlement discussions and agreed in principle on the terms of the settlement, which includes a stipulated dismissal of this action, subject to execution of a long-form settlement agreement,” the docs read.

In the original lawsuit, JAY-Z accused Mannion of making “an arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases.” The complaint added: “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.”

Mannion’s attorney Sarah Hsia responded at the time by emphasizing her client’s respect for Hov and his role in the rap legend’s career, while asking that he respects Mannion’s First Amendment rights to sell fine art prints of his copyrighted works.

“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,” Hsia said. “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.”

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Despite their since-resolved legal dispute, Jonathan Mannion has shown plenty of love to JAY-Z over the years. In February 2021, he congratulated Hov on Instagram after he was nominated to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (into which he was successfully voted).

“ROC & ROLL HALL OF FAME. Congratulations to the mighty HOV on the @rockhall class of 21 induction nod,” he wrote next to a photo of the Brooklyn rapper from their Reasonable Doubt photoshoot. “An obvious, if not mandatory, choice. Earned and deserved. It has been an honor to witness and document his phenomenal journey.”

One of Hip Hop’s most distinguished photographers, Mannion has also shot the covers of albums such as DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, Nas’ God’s Son and Eminem’s The Eminem Show.

His portfolio also includes portraits of Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, Outkast, Lauryn Hill and many more.


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