On Friday, October 22, a federal jury in California dismissed charges that Cardi B misappropriated a man’s likeness for the cover of her 2016 first mixtape.
After a four-day trial and an afternoon of deliberations, a Santa Ana jury determined that the cover of Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 did not violate plaintiff Kevin Michael Brophy’s publicity or privacy rights by depicting an altered photo of another man with Brophy’s distinctive back tattoo performing oral sex on the popular rapper.
In a complaint filed in 2017, Brophy demanded at least $5 million in damages from Cardi B and her ex-manager Klendon Raphael, as well as an order prohibiting Cardi B from using his likeness.
In an email to Reuters, Brophy’s attorney Barry Cappello of Cappello & Noel described Cardi B and Raphael as “gracious winners” who shook hands with Brophy following the judgement.
Cappello stated, “If this chapter can be closed, it may be better for the Brophy family to put this in the past.”
Cardi B, whose given name is Belcalis Almanzar, did not reply quickly to demands for comment on the verdict.
Brophy, a resident of Costa Mesa, California, stated in his lawsuit that he works for a “socially concerned surf and lifestyle company” and that he is a family man with a wife and young children.
After Cardi B unveiled the explicit mixtape cover displaying a man with Brophy’s distinctive tattoo pasted onto his back, he reportedly received “uncomfortable comments, questions, and ridicule,” according to him.
Brophy referred to his tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake as his “Michaelangelo” during his trial.
The New York rapper argued that the cover’s use of the design is constitutionally protected as “transformative” under intellectual property law.
The tattoo was used “anonymously, as a single building piece” in the intricate cover artwork, according to Cardi B’s court complaint.
She further stated that the model on the cover was “Black with hair,” whereas Brophy is “middle-aged with a shaved head.”