EXCLUSIVE: Jay-Z Settles Lawsuit Against “Reasonable Doubt” Album Cover Photographer


According to court documents obtained by AllHipHop, JAY-Z and photographer Jonathan Mannion have asked a judge to vacate the trial, which was set for March.

Jay-Z sued photographer Jonathan Mannion and his company, Jonathan Mannion Photography LLC, in June 2021. The Roc Nation mogul claimed Mannion—who shot the cover for Jay-Z’s 1996 album Reasonable Doubt—used his likeness and and name without his permission. The case was expected to go to trial in March, but it seems there’s been a change of plans.

According to court documents obtained by AllHipHop, Jay-Z and Mannion have asked a judge to vacate the trial. Essentially, they’ve agreed to settle. As the docs explain: “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 paperwork also explains Jay-Z and Mannion have been working “diligently” toward finalizing a settlement agreement and made “substantial progress.” Therefore, they are asking the court to throw out the trial.

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In the original filing, Jay-Z took note of Mannion’s website, which has images of Jay-Z plastered all over it. But Jay-Z claimed Mannion never had his permission to do so. He also said when he asked Mannion to stop using the images, Mannion demanded millions of dollars. Jay said Mannion was making an “arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases.”

Jay-Z hired Mannion to shoot the cover art for Reasonable Doubt in 1996. He wound up taking hundreds of photos for Roc-A-Fella Records and was paid “handsomely.” But it seemed Jay thought that’s where their working relationship would end.

“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,” the docs said. “It stops today.”

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While there doesn’t appear to be many images of Jay-Z left on Mannion’s website, a few album covers do remain. Other photos include the famous faces of Nas, Run-DMC, SZA and Ice Cube, among many others. Both parties have until February 17 to file the proper paperwork. AllHipHop has reached out to Mannion for comment.