In response to a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against fellow rapper Nas, Snoop Dogg argues photographers should not own the photos they take of celebrities.
Photographer Sues Nas Over His Photo of Nas
According to court documents obtained by Radar, photographer Al Pereira is suing Nas for posting a photo Pereira took to his Instagram, which shows the rapper standing next to the late Tupac Shakur. The photo was taken in July of 1993, but Pereira republished the photo in 2017 and filed for a copyright at that time.
The photographer claims he noticed that Nas posted the photo to his Instagram in 2020 without his permission and without licensing the image. Pereira is reportedly “furious” at Nas as he makes a living selling licenses to his photos, and the photographer accuses Nas of not only profiting from one such photo but also using it to increase his social media clout.
Pereira is suing for unspecified damages as well as an injunction against Nas from using his work.
Snoop Dogg Weighs In on the Lawsuit
Snoop Dogg posted a video where he publicly shares his disgust with the situation. He says that photographers should not be able to sue celebrities for photos that include those celebrities. Warning: the video contains many profanities.
“When you take a picture of a n***a, that picture ain’t yours,” he says in the video. “That’s a mere likeness-type situation. You’re borrowing my likeness.”
Snoop Dogg doesn’t understand how a photographer could sue a person for a photo that the person is in, and he argues that current copyright laws need to be updated.
“We need new laws to help us as artists, man because it’s a bunch of motha****** selling pictures with my face on it and I don’t get s*** ‘cause they took the picture. Can anybody help me with that? Just a basic question.”
Copyright Law and Celebrities
Snoop Dogg is not the only celebrity who has expressed this opinion of current copyright law. In October of 2021, actress Lisa Rinna, most well known for her role in the television show “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” was sued for posting a photo to her Instagram without compensating or seeking permission from the photographer. In response, she argued that photographers and agencies often “weaponize” the Copyright Act against celebrities.
Previous cases of similar incidents involve multiple public figures, from athletes to pop stars. Lebron James reached a settlement with a photographer after a lawsuit alleged he misappropriated an image for his social media feed without paying the photographer, TikTok star Charli D’Amelio was called out for using a photographer’s images in her book without permission, and Dua Lipa received a similar lawsuit to Rinna’s and Nas’s.
Snoop Dogg seems to believe that if a photographer does sell a photo of a celebrity, that celebrity should always be entitled to some kind of compensation for it as the photographer is profiting off that celebrity’s likeness.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.