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The Notorious B.I.G’s estate settles lawsuit over iconic photos

The Notorious B.I.G’s estate has settled a lawsuit over some iconic photos of the late rapper at the World Trade Centre.

  • READ MORE: The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Ready To Die’ at 25: 9 surprising things about the era-defining album

In 1996, late photographer Chi Modu took the photos of Biggie – real name Christopher Wallace. The images, which show the rapper in front of the World Trade Centre towers, were taken five years before the September 11 attacks in New York City.

At the filing of the initial lawsuit in 2019, Biggie’s estate claimed Modu was illegally licensing the photos for use on such things as shower curtains and NFTs “in complete disregard for BIG’s rights.” The photographer passed away in 2021.

In 2022, a judge ruled that images used in this way on such merchandise did likely violated the rapper’s likeness rights.

Now, this week, Billboard reported that Staci Jennifer Trager, who represented The Notorious B.I.G.’s estate, announced that a settlement has been reached regarding the lawsuit on January 18.

Notorious B.I.G. – CREDIT: Clarence Davis/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

While the terms of the settlement were not made public, Trager said the resolution was between Biggie’s children and Modu’s widow who are all executors of the estates of the deceased artists.
“Pictures of Christopher cannot be commercially exploited without a license from our client,” Trager said. “The settlement agreement is a testament to the dedication of our client as well as our team members in staying the course over several years.”
NME has reached out to representatives of Modu for comment.
In a 2011 interview, Modu, who captured images of many hip hop greats over the years, said the shoot at the World Trade Centre was inspired by lyrics in Biggie’s song ‘Juicy,.’
“When the idea came to me to represent Notorious B.I.G as the King of New York, I thought what better setting than to have two of the quintessential New York City buildings in the background,” Modu said. “This image remains fresh and can help to further immortalise these icons in the hearts and minds of a generation.”
Last year, it was announced a collection of NFTs were to be released in partnership with the estate of the Notorious B.I.G., will include the rights to license an iconic freestyle the rapper delivered when he was a teenager.

Sky’s the Limit: The Notorious B.I.G. Collection, included 3D NFT figurine characters inspired by Biggie. Everyone who purchases one of these will be given the rights to license audio of the freestyle, which B.I.G. rapped on a street corner in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn when he was 17 years old.

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