A federal judge in California has upheld Cardi B‘s victory in the recent “back tattoo” trial.
Plaintiff Kevin Brophy had earlier filed a lawsuit against Cardi B for using an image of his back tattoo on the cover of her mixtape Gangsta B***h Music Vol 1.
However, in October, a jury found that the cover art did not otherwise use Brophy’s likeness or portray him in a negative light.
Brophy filed a request to overturn the verdict, but U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled Wednesday that Brophy’s request to overturn the October 21 jury verdict was both too late and lacked merit.
He also ordered Brophy to pay the “WAP” rapper’s attorney’s fees and costs.
The album’s cover, designed by graphic artist Timm Gooden, depicts Cardi B receiving oral sex from a tattooed man while drinking a Corona beer. The tattoo, which belonged to Brophy, was digitally composited onto the body of the uncredited male model who posed for the photo.
But, Brophy later claimed that that tattoo image was used without his permission and that his likeness was appropriated in “a misleading, offensive, humiliating and provocatively sexual way.”
In a ruling obtained by Rolling Stone, the judge said that “reasons abound to sustain the jury’s verdict of not liable on all claims.” The judge added that “the model appears non-white with black hair while Brophy is white and has a shaved head.” For this reason, the judge ruled that the man on the mixtape’s cover could not be mistaken for Brophy, despite the copied tattoo.
“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,” the judge summarized. “Because the model’s face is not visible, identification based on facial appearance is impossible.”
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