SANTA ANA, Calif. — A self-proclaimed family man with a distinctive tattoo on his back felt humiliated after Cardi B allegedly misused his likeness for her sexually suggestive mixtape cover, his attorney said during opening arguments on Tuesday. .
Kevin Michael Brophy is suing the Grammy-winning musician in a $5 million copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court in Southern California. His lawyers say Brophy’s life was disrupted and he suffered distress because of the 2016 artwork.
Brophy’s attorney, A. Barry Cappello, said photo-editing software was used to put the back tattoo, which appeared in tattoo magazines, onto the male model used in the cover of the mixtape. The image shows a tattooed man from behind, with his head between the rapper’s legs. The man’s face is invisible.
Cardi B, who is expected to testify at trial, is fighting the allegations and 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.
“Their lives have been disrupted,” Cappello told the jury as Cardi B, real name Belcalis Almanzar, watched from the defense table. He said the image disturbed Brophy with his wife, Lindsay Michelle Brophy, who he said first asked her husband if it was him in the cover art. The couple have two young children.
Brody said he once thought of his back tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake as a “Michelangelo piece” that has since become “raunchy and disgusting”.
Defense documents pointed out that the model who posed for the photos was black, while Brophy is white.
Cardi B’s attorney, Peter Anderson, said Brophy and the mixtape image were unrelated. He said the model doesn’t have any tattoos on her neck, unlike Brophy.
“Brophy’s face wasn’t on the mixtape,” Anderson said during his opening statement. “She was already popular. It has nothing to do with Brophy.”
But Brophy disputed in court that everyone who knew him believed he was on the cover of the mixtape. He said the offensive image was something he would never approve of.
Brophy said he sent a cease and desist letter to representatives for Cardi B to remove the tattoo, but never received a response.
“For me, it was something that I was very proud of,” Brophy said of his tattoo. “Now that image seems devalued. I feel robbed. I feel completely ignored. There’s a lot of things I’d like to spend time on. But the only way to get that removed was to come here to this room. ‘hearing.’
Cappello said Gooden was paid $50 to create a design, but was then told to come up with another tattoo after returning an initial draft. He said Gooden Googled “back tattoos” before finding an image and pasting it on the cover.
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.