Cardi B Wins Trial Over Mixtape Cover Art

A federal jury on Friday (Oct. 21) said Cardi B was not legally liable in a lawsuit filed by a California man whose back tattoos were unwittingly photoshopped onto an album cover, making it look like — he claimed — he was the one performing oral sex on her, according to Law360. The verdict allows the superstar to avoid millions of dollars in requested damages.

Following a four-day trial, the jurors said that Cardi (real name Belcalis Almánzar) did not violate Kevin Brophy’s rights with the bawdy cover of her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1, which accidentally featured a large image of Brophy’s back tattoo.

The actual man in the image was a model who had consented to the shoot, but a giant tattoo on the man’s back belonged to Brophy. Unbeknownst to Cardi, a freelance graphic designer had typed “back tattoos” into Google Image, found one that fit (Brophy’s), and Photoshopped it onto the model’s body. It apparently didn’t occur to him that he would need anyone’s approval to do so.

Brophy testified that the “raunchy” cover had been a “complete slap in the face” that had caused him “hurt and shame,” but jurors were clearly swayed by Cardi’s defenses — like the idea that nobody could even recognize him from the image of his back.

Brophy sued in 2017 for millions in damages, claiming he was “devastated, humiliated and embarrassed” by the cover. He claimed Cardi and others violated his so-called right of publicity by using his likeness without his consent, and also violated his right to privacy by casting him in a “false light” that was “highly offensive.”

Ahead of the trial, Cardi’s legal team argued those accusations were “sheer fantasy” and “vastly overblown” — and that Brophy was just suing her in an effort to “cash in the legal equivalent of a lotto ticket.” Her team says nobody would have recognized a relatively unknown man based merely on his back, and that he has little proof anyone did.

Friday’s verdict came after four heated days of trial. Cardi took the witness stand on Wednesday, repeatedly sparring with an opposing attorney, demanding “receipts” to support Brophy’s claims, and accusing him and his lawyers of “harassing” her in hopes of scoring a settlement.

Brophy has options to appeal the verdict, if he so chooses: First by asking the judge to overturn the verdict, and then by taking the case to a federal appeals court.

Bill Donahue