Ice Cube has found himself caught up in a copyright dispute over a famous photo of the rapper/actor which has been used on T-shirts for US fashion firm Forever 21.

Photographer Patrick Hoelck claims he owns the rights to the image, depicting the N.W.A. star wearing a black T-shirt and matching cap and snarling at the camera.

He says he was never approached by retail bosses for permission to print the picture on their new line of goods, which also features the logo of Ice Cube's favourite American football team, the Oakland Raiders.

He fired off cease and desist letters to Forever 21 executives and their partners at merchandising company Control in June, demanding they pull the tops from store shelves.

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They have ignored his warning and now he is taking them to court, according to TMZ.com.

He is seeking a jury trial and wants to be awarded all profits from sales of the T-shirt.

Ice Cube, real name O'Shea Jackson, is not directly involved in the dispute.

Ironically, the cap the hip-hop veteran wears in the snap shows his support for the Washington Nationals baseball team.

- AAP