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.