Notorious B.I.G. estate and photographer Chi Modu’s widow settle copyright clash
In a landmark resolution, the legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. estate settled its protracted legal dispute with the widow of renowned hip-hop photographer Chi Modu. The controversy centered around merchandise featuring Modu’s iconic image of the rapper posed before the World Trade Center.
The legal battle dates back to 2019 when Biggie’s estate filed a lawsuit against Modu. The estate of Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G., LLC) was embroiled in a legal dispute with Sophia Modu, Chi Modu’s widow, over the unauthorized sale of merchandise featuring Biggie’s photos that her husband had taken.
The estate, set up by Christopher Wallace’s (Biggie Smalls) mother and wife after his death in 1997, alleged that the sale of these items infringed on their right to publicity and harmed Biggie’s brand. The estate had previously sued Yes. Snowboards and Chi Modu in 2019 for similar reasons.
But Sophia Modu argued that her husband had been licensing his photos, including to Biggie’s own marketing company, since the 1990s. The case, which saw tensions escalate with the estate labeling Chi Modu “a parasite,” ended with a U.S. District Judge urging both parties to consider mediation.
Settlement and statements
In 2022, Chi Modu’s estate got into another legal battle – against Universal Music Group (UMG). UMG reportedly used one of Modu’s iconic images of Tupac Shakur in a 2019 blog post, and the estate claimed that the copyright info was removed.
As for the latest settlement between Sophia Modu and Notorious B.I.G.’s Estate, the two parties have reached an agreement, according to Billboard. The specific terms of the settlement disclosed in a recent court filing remain confidential. The estate’s attorney expressed satisfaction at bringing this high-profile case to a close. “Pictures of Christopher cannot be commercially exploited without a license from our client,” she stated, highlighting the estate’s commitment to protecting Wallace’s legacy. However, an attorney for Modu’s widow (the photographer passed away in 2021) has yet to respond to the development.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.