SANTA ANA, Calif. — A jury sided with Cardi B on Friday in a copyright infringement case involving a man who claimed the Grammy-winning rapper misused his back tattoos for his cover sexually suggestive of 2016 mixtape.
The Southern California federal jury ruled that Kevin Michael Brophy failed to prove that Cardi B misappropriated her image. After the foreperson read the verdict, the rapper hugged her lawyers and looked cheerful.
Cardi B thanked the jurors, admitting she was “pretty nervous” before hearing the verdict.
“I didn’t know if I was going to lose or not,” she said after leaving the courthouse. She was invaded by several journalists, photographers and more than 40 high school students who chanted her name. A fan held up a sign asking if she could take him to his homecoming prom, to which she replied, “Yeah, I’ll see what I can do.”
“I figured if I won I was going to insult Mr Brophy. But I have no heart in insulting him,” she said. In the courtroom, Cardi B had a brief cordial conversation with Brophy and shook his hand.
Brophy filed a lawsuit a year after the rapper’s mixtape was released in 2016. He called himself a “family man with minor children” and said he was caused “distress and distress.” humiliation” by the artwork – which showed a tattooed man from behind with his head between the rapper’s legs inside a limo. The man’s face is invisible.
“At the end of the day, I respect you as an artist,” Brophy told Cardi B.
Brophy’s attorney, A. Barry Cappello, says photo-editing software was used to put the back tattoo, which appeared in tattoo magazines, on the male model featured on the cover of the mixtape .
But Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, disputed the allegations during her testimony earlier in the week – and had such an intense exchange with Cappello that the trial was briefly interrupted by US District Judge Cormac Carney .
Cardi B said she felt Brophy suffered no consequences as a result of the artwork. She said Brophy legally stalked her for five years – and even at one point said she missed her youngest child’s “first step” because of the lawsuit.
Cardi B provided pointed answers to many of Cappello’s questions. The lawyer once asked her to calm down, but she strongly rebuffed his claim that she knew about the altered image.
Their heated exchange prompted the judge to send jurors out of the Santa Ana, Calif., courtroom and told both sides he was considering a mistrial. After a short break, he called the row “unprofessional” and “unproductive”, but allowed questioning to resume, then imposed further restrictions on both sides.
Cardi B said an artist only used a “small portion” of the tattoos without her knowledge. She previously said the cover — created by Timm Gooden — was a transformative fair use of Brophy’s likeness.
Cappello said Gooden was paid $50 to create a design, but was told to find another tattoo after turning in an early draft. He said Gooden Googled “back tattoos” before finding an image and pasting it on the cover.
Cardi B’s attorney Peter Anderson said Brophy and the mixtape image were unrelated, noting that the model doesn’t have neck tattoos — which Brophy does.
“It’s not your client’s back,” Cardi B said of the image, which featured a black model. Brophy is white. The rapper pointed out that she posted a photo of the “famous Canadian model” on her social media.
“It’s not him,” she continued. “To me, it doesn’t look like his back at all. The tattoo has been altered, which is protected by the First Amendment.
Cardi B said the image hasn’t hindered Brophy’s employment with a popular surf and skate apparel brand or her ability to travel the world in search of opportunity.
“He wasn’t fired from his job,” said the rapper, who hinted that the mixtape wasn’t lucrative for her. “He has not divorced. How did he suffer? He is still in a surf shop at this position. Please tell me how he suffered.
Last month, Cardi B pleaded guilty in a criminal case stemming from two fights at New York strip clubs that forced her to perform 15 days of community service. Earlier this year, the rapper was awarded $1.25million in a defamation lawsuit against a celebrity blogger who posted videos falsely claiming she used cocaine, contracted herpes and prostituted herself.