Cardi B will have to go to trial over her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 after all, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cardi was sued in 2017 by model Kevin Brophy Jr. over the cover of her debut mixtape which depicted the rapper posing suggestively with a tattooed man. Brophy’s tattoo was apparently photoshopped onto the cover model’s back at Cardi’s direction.
Brophy contends that the distinctive tattoo constitutes misappropriation of his likeness and says it’s used in a “misleading, offensive, humiliating and provocatively sexual way.” Brophy claims that this depicts him in a false light, which in legal terms is a fusion of defamation and privacy invasion. Meanwhile, Cardi’s lawyers argue that the tattoo falls under fair use laws, as it was used “transformatively” since it was copied and pasted onto a different model.
However, Judge Cormac Carney rejected the fair use claim, reasoning, “To constitute a transformative fair use, the revised image must have significant transformative or creative elements to make it something more than mere likeness or imitation.” It’s his view that the tattoo itself wasn’t changed very much — or at all — and that a reasonable jury would be able to identify it from the cover.
The mixtape’s cover artist even admitted that it was the same tattoo. After being paid $50 to make a quick design, he was told to change the original model’s tattoo, Googled “back tattoos,” and overlaid it onto the cover model. Judge Carney did, however, shoot down Brophy’s damages claim. The model believes he’s entitled to over $1,000,000 from the mixtapes streams — nearly all the revenue it generated — as well as over half-a-million dollars from its followup, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2 — which features an entirely different cover image.
Carney said the expert Brophy produced brought a nonsensical theory that “if Defendants had not used Plaintiff’s tattoo on the GBMV1 cover, Cardi B would have made no money on the album—at least on the streaming services where the tattoo appears.”
Cardi’s legal troubles don’t stop there. She’s also due to go on trial for an August 2018 incident in which she allegedly assaulted a pair of bartenders at a strip club. She pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, but will also have to fend off civil charges.
Cardi B is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.