You may think that any photo containing your likeness is fair game to share widely with your social media following. After all, it is your face, right? Well, if you didn’t take the photo yourself, things could get tricky. And sharing that photo could land you in court. If the photographer who took the picture is the sole owner of the copyright, you could be sued for sharing it without permission, even if it is your face. Rapper Nas is learning that lesson the hard way, and now Snoop Dogg just wants to make it all make sense.
The Gin and Juice rapper who has had very public beef with both Eminem and Iggy Azalea in the past is now taking issue with those murky copyright laws, and he is airing his grievances on Instagram. In a March 8 Instagram video, Snoop Dogg went on to express his frustration with the law as it stands in the way only Snoop Dogg can.
“How’s a mothaf*cka suing Nas for a picture that he in?” the rapper said in his impassioned plea for clarity. He added that photographers have “lost y’all mothaf*ckin’ rabid ass mind. When you take a picture of a n***a, that picture ain’t yours. That’s a mere likeness-type situation. You’re borrowing my likeness,” he said. The West Coast rapper used the 30-second video to call for new copyright laws, stating that he doesn’t understand why photographers are allowed to earn hefty profits from the sale of celebrity photos to media outlets when the celebrities themselves don’t earn a dime.
Snoop’s annoyance is specifically directed at notable hip-hop photographer Al Pereira, who recently filed a lawsuit against Nas for sharing a black-and-white photo with the NY State of Mind rapper along with Tupac and Redman taken outside of New York’s now-shuttered Club Amazon in 1993. Pereira alleges that the photo he shot was shared without permission. He goes on to state that the picture’s value has decreased since Nas shared it with his over 6 million Instagram followers in 2020, keeping Pereira from getting the coins that the rare photo could bring his way. Because who really wants to pay for a photo you can view on Instagram for free? Pereira initially registered the copyright for the photo in 2017 and is now suing Nas for damages plus an injunction against the Queens rapper for using his work.
The photographer is no stranger to lawsuits and this isn’t the first time he’s dragging a celebrity into court over his photographs. In fact, he’s filed over 450 copyright infringement lawsuits, including a 2017 lawsuit against reality royalty Kendall and Kylie Jenner for using shots he took of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. The celebrity sisters wanted to use the images on a t-shirt design they were creating for a clothing line bearing their name. But Jenner clapped back with a $22,000 countersuit to cover her legal costs in what she called a “frivolous lawsuit.”
Nas has not yet released a statement about the lawsuit.