Cardi B’s recent legal victory where she was found not liable for using a man’s back tattoo for an album cover is being upheld by a California federal judge.
The lawsuit was related to the cover of her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1, in which body art model Kevin Brophy Jr. claimed Cardi used his back tattoo and likeness without his permission.
The aforementioned artwork depicts Cardi sitting in the back of a limousine with a male model kneeling in front of her, appearing to perform oral sex on the would-be superstar.
“It felt like my Michelangelo was stolen off the wall and just literally ripped off and robbed and just put wherever these people wanted to put it,” Brophy said in his October testimony. “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.”
He continued: “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 had sued Cardi for $5 million, but the jury ultimately sided with the Bronx rap star. Brophy then filed to overturn the verdict, but on Wednesday (December 28), U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled that the request came too late and lacked merit.
He also ordered Brophy to begin paying the rapper’s attorney’s fees and costs, which are unlikely to be cheap.
The ruling detailed that Brophy and his lawyers failed to preserve their right to bring such a request, which is known as a Rule 50 motion, before the case was submitted to the jury for deliberations.
“The untimeliness of Brophy’s Rule 50 is reason enough to deny it. But the motion also wants for substantive merit,” Carney wrote in the ruling obtained by Rolling Stone.
Late Christmas present for @iamcardib from U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney: He’s upholding the jury verdict in her favor, against the man whose tattoo is partially featured on the cover to Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1.
“It is not for this Court to second-guess the verdict now.” pic.twitter.com/OaibZIevAW
— Meghann Cuniff (@meghanncuniff) December 28, 2022
“The jury had an ample basis for its verdict,” the ruling continued. “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.”
Carney then added that Brophy’s alleged back tattoo played a minor role in what he deemed to be a “visual commentary on sexual politics.”
“Most importantly, Brophy’s tattoo played a minor role in what was a larger visual commentary on sexual politics,” he wrote. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
The legal victory comes as fans patiently wait for new music from the Bronx-bred rapper. Cardi admitted in a heartfelt Instagram Live session earlier this month that personal anxieties are partially behind the delay.
“I’m just a mom and I do have anxiety,” she told fans. “I’ve been having a lot of anxiety, because I know right after I drop my album, I have to go out on tour and I have bad separation anxiety from my kids.
“When it comes to music and everything, I just be feeling like I don’t be liking anything. I feel like I got so many songs and I don’t like anything. I feel like nothing is good enough… And I got so much money saved up I just be like, ‘Yeah, whatever the fuck.’”