JAY-Z claims the photographer sold images from the photoshoot without his consent.
JAY-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt from 1996 will forever be acknowledged as a classic in his discography, housing songs like “D’evils” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle” with Mary J. Blige. However, recently, much controversy has surrounded the project.
In summer 2021, JAY-Z filed a lawsuit against the photographer who shot the album’s cover art, Jonathan Mannion. JAY-Z claimed that Mannion was using additional photos from the shoot to advertise his business on his website, and was selling photos of Hov without his permission: “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, who also shot other album covers for JAY-Z such as his 2003 studio album The Black Album, moved to dismiss the suit months later in August. Citing the First Amendment and the Copyright Act, Mannion claimed JAY-Z and his team were being presumptive: “(This is a) vitriolic complaint filled with false insinuations of exploitation.”
JAY-Z claims Mannion made thousands off is likeness, and the two parties met on Jan. 5 to attempt to reach a settlement. However, neither budged in their stances, as the court filings indicated: “Plaintiff Shawn Carter and Defendants Jonathan Mannion and Jonathan Mannion Photography LLC participated in a mediation before the Honorable Terry Friedman (Ret.) on January 5, 2022. The parties were unable to reach an agreement to resolve this case.”
Now, the case will head to trial with a summer court date on July 22. Both Hov and Mannion seem insistent that they are in the right.