A judge in California has upheld Cardi B’s recent win at a trial where she was found not liable for misappropriating a fragment of Kevin Brophy’s back tattoo on the cover of her Gangsta Bitch Music Vol.1 mixtape, released back in 2016.
In 2017, the model sued Cardi B for $5 million, arguing that the mixtape artwork – which portrays a man performing oral sex on the rapper – stole his likeness by using an image of his back tattoo. Brophy also claimed that the misappropriation caused him “distress and humiliation.”
Following the court’s 2022 verdict, which found Cardi B not liable, Brophy requested that it be tossed. Now, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney has ruled that Brophy’s request came too late. He has subsequently been ordered to pay Cardi B’s legal fees.
In a statement, Carney said: “The jury had an ample basis for its verdict. 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 statement continues: “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 judge concluded: “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.”