Cardi B won a decisive victory this week in the case against her over the cover of her first mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1, according to Rolling Stone. Cardi previously won the case brought by California man Kevin Brophy in a jury trial in October, but U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled Wednesday (December 28) to uphold the jury’s decision and reject Brophy’s appeal, which he said: “wants for substantive merit.”
Brophy had sued Cardi over the mixtape cover claiming it used a portion of his back tattoo on a model depicted performing oral sex on Cardi. Brophy claimed that this caused him emotional distress due to being misrepresented. However, Cardi’s defense argued that Brophy couldn’t prove any material harm or even that anyone could recognize him from the tattoo.
Carney apparently agreed with Cardi’s defense and ultimately, the jury who decided against Brophy in October. “The jury had an ample basis for its verdict,” he wrote in his decision. “For example, the jury could have reasonably concluded that the back tattoo on the model on the mixtape cover at issue in this suit was not sufficiently identifiable with Brophy to constitute misappropriation of his likeness or depiction in a false light. Because the model’s face is not visible, identification based on facial appearance is impossible.”
The judge also noted the artistic value of the mixtape cover itself, writing, “Most importantly, Brophy’s tattoo played a minor role in what was a larger visual commentary on sexual politics. Brophy’s tattoo was but one tattoo on the back of the model, who was himself but one part of a suggestive portrayal of a man with his head between Cardi B’s legs while she was in the backseat of a vehicle and drank an alcoholic beverage. The purpose, Cardi B testified, was to show her in control, reversing traditional gender roles. It is hard to see how the cover’s economic value derived at all from Brophy’s tattoo. Despite any contrary evidence that Brophy presented, the jury was within reason to find that the use of the tattoo was transformative.”
Cardi herself recently commemorated her first mixtape and all that’s happened since sharing some of the early promo photos for it on Twitter. “I had a dream,” she attested. She also recalled “crushing hard” on her now-husband Offset while filming one of the mixtape’s music videos.
Cardi B is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.