Since Nas Is Being Sued For Posting A Photo Of Himself — Here's A Short Lesson On Copyright Law
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur

Since Nas Is Being Sued For Posting A Photo Of Himself — Here's A Short Lesson On Copyright Law

Considering the circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if photographer Al Pereira isn’t exactly well-liked in the world of Hip-Hop.

As AfroTech previously reported, the photographer is taking rapper Nas to court after the Queens native shared a photo of himself with Tupac Shakur and Redman on Instagram without explicitly asking for permission or compensation from Pereira himself.

Al Pereira registered the copyright for the photo in 2017, and Nas shared the photo to social media in 2020. The photo was initially taken outside of Club Amazon in New York City in 1993.

In his lawsuit, Pereira claims that Nas was trying to profit off of his work by posting the photo, while also using the photo to “increase his social media status.”

“Selling these licenses of his art is reportedly how Pereira makes a living, and because Nas freely posted the image online, the photographer argued that the picture has lost some of its value. It is unclear what damages Pereira is seeking at this time. Nas has not publicly responded to the lawsuit,” reports HotNewHipHop about the lawsuit.

But it’s not immediately clear why Al Pereira waited so long to file the lawsuit against the rapper.

The lawsuit was nothing if not shocking, and we decided to take a closer look at the controversial photographer.

He Has More Than 100,000 Pics in Getty

To wit, Al Pereira has 107,096 images in the Getty archive that he’s taken. He’s photographed everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan to various sports teams.

Al Pereira Previously Sued Kendall Jenner — And She Countersued

Back in 2018, TMZ reported that Al Pereira previously sued Kendall Jenner for selling T-shirts featuring the photo he took of Biggie and Tupac and her face superimposed over it. Jenner apologized for the error and took the T-shirt down, and claimed she only sold one of the T-shirts in question.

That wasn’t enough for Pereira, who demanded $25,000 for Jenner’s breach of copyright.

Jenner then struck back with a countersuit against Pereira for $22,000, claiming that he was filing “frivolous” lawsuits against her and other celebrities.

“Here’s the weird part — he later dropped the lawsuit against Kendall, only to refile it on Friday … but now he’s going after Canada Inc., the company KJ says makes the shirts,” reports TMZ.

And He Reportedly Has a Lot More Where That Came From

According to Vibe, Kendall Jenner’s team accused Al Pereira of being a “troll” because he’d reportedly filed more than 450 lawsuits against celebrities who used his works without permission.

Snoop Dogg Slammed Pereira For The Lawsuit

In an expletive-laden Instagram video, Snoop Dogg took Pereira to task for filing the suit in the first place.

Is Copyright Law on Al Pereira's Side?

In a word, yes.

According to the Professional Photographers of America’s website, an addendum to the copyright law was added in 1988 that further protects photographers from having their works stolen. Essentially, the person who takes the photo (in this case, Pereira) owns the rights to it. That means that he, and only he, can do what he wants with it — including post it to social media — and if the subject(s) of the photo (in this case, Nas) posts it, s/he can be subjected to a lawsuit (which is exactly what’s happening).

And Pereira isn’t the only photographer who has taken advantage of this copyright law.

In 2018, Buzzfeed published an explosive report that revealed celebrities were getting sued en masse by photo agencies for posting professional photos of themselves that they didn’t actually own the copyrights to.

Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, 50 Cent, Jessica Simpson, and Khloé Kardashian are just a few of the many celebrities who have been sued by photo agencies for posting professional photos without explicit permission or compensation.

“The photographer owns the copyright to the photograph; it doesn’t matter who is in it,” said entertainment lawyer Bryan Sullivan to Buzzfeed. “The subject of the photo doesn’t have any rights to the picture as long as it was taken in a public place.”

Sullivan also claims that each photo used without proper permission or compensation can result in a penalty worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — $150,000, to be exact. Photographers can also sue for loss of profit and legal fees, bringing the tally into the millions.