Cardi B. is facing another legal battle.
Kevin Michael Brophy is suing the rap superstar in a $5 million copyright-infringement lawsuit for allegedly using the likeness of his back tattoo on the sexually provocative cover art for her Gangster B*tch Music Vol. 1 mixtape, reports the Associated Press.
In federal court in Southern California this week, Brophy’s lawyer, A. Barry Cappello, claimed that photo-editing software was used to superimpose Brophy's tattoo, which has appeared in several tattoo magazines, onto the male model for the mixtape cover. The image shows a tattooed man from behind with his head between the rapper’s legs.
But the judge emphasized the image here is really kinda tame.— Meghann Cuniff (@meghanncuniff) October 18, 2022
"This isn’t even adult pornography," Carney said.
From the complaint: "The cover of Gangsta Bitch is designed to attract consumers to the Cardi B edgy persona..." pic.twitter.com/x7McnJKQ9E
Brophy testified that he once considered the tattoo a “Michelangelo piece” but now he says it's “raunchy and disgusting” because it was used in a sexually suggestive manner.
“It looks like I’m giving oral sex to somebody that’s not my wife, somebody that’s not my partner, and an image that I never signed off on, ever,” Brophy told the court. “Being a father of two and a devoted husband and a man of faith as well, this goes against everything that I stand for, and I would never ever sign off on something like this.”
Brophy also said that he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cardi B’s representatives to remove the tattoo from the artwork but his correspondence was ignored.
"For me, it was something I took a lot of pride in,” Brophy said about his tattoo. “Now, that image feels devalued. I feel robbed. I feel completely disregarded. There’s a lot of things I would like to be spending time on. But the only way to get this removed was to come here to this courtroom.”
Peter Anderson, Cardi’s lawyer, denied that Brophy’s image had been used for the cover art arguing that the model in the image did not have tattoos on his neck as Brophy does.
“Brophy’s face wasn’t on the mixtape,” Anderson said during his opening statement. "It has nothing to do with Brophy.”
The defense team also noted that the model who posed for the photos was Black, while Brophy is white.
According to Cappello, Timm Gooden was paid $50 to create the mixtape cover art. He was instructed to find another tattoo “after turning in an initial draft and Googled “back tattoos” before finding Brophy’s.”
Cardi, who is expected to testify during the trial, said that Gooden only used a “small portion” of the tattoos without her knowledge. She also said the cover art was a “transformative fair use” of Brophy’s likeness.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney informed jurors that the testimony may last four days, with deliberations to commence on Friday.