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Cardi B to testify as publicity rights case over mixtape artwork heads to court

By | Published on Wednesday 20 July 2022

Cardi B

Cardi B will be testifying in court for the second time this year next month. This time in relation to her dispute with a model whose distinctive tattoos appeared on the cover of the rapper’s 2016 mixtape ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’.

The model, Kevin Brophy, accuses the rapper, real name Belcalis Almánzar, of infringing his publicity rights under Californian law. The man who appears on the cover of ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’ has his back to the camera and it’s designed to look like he is performing oral sex on the rapper. Because of the distinctive tattoos on the man’s back, Brophy argues, everyone assumes it is him in the image.

Almánzar’s legal reps will tell the court next month that a designer superimposed Brophy’s distinctive tattoos onto the back of the man who actually was photographed with the rapper, but that this happened without their client’s knowledge.

They will also argue that the skin tone of the man in the photo makes it clear that it is not actually Brophy, plus the designer also altered the tattoo design in Photoshop. Although previous efforts by Almánzar to have the case dismissed on the basis that the tattoo image had been altered were not successful.

For his part, Brophy will argue that many people have indeed assumed it is him in the photo, because of the distinctive tattoos, and that that has resulted in him regularly facing “uncomfortable comments, questions, and ridicule from community members and family”.

As the original lawsuit stated: “His family dynamic has been adversely affected, and his work and professional life have been unalterably damaged by his having to explain this unconsented-to, offensive and malicious use of his image”.

With attempts to settle the dispute out of court having seemingly failed – and following previous delays – the Brophy v Almánzar litigation is set to be heard before a jury in a court in California next month.

And, according to Rolling Stone, at a pre-trial hearing on Monday the judge overseeing the case confirmed that Almánzar is expected to testify. She was last seen giving testimony in court back in January as part of her defamation lawsuit against YouTuber Latasha Kebe. In that case Almánzar was the plaintiff, and she was successful in court, winning $4 million in damages.

Commenting on the Brophy lawsuit, judge Cormac J Carney said earlier this week: “I don’t think this case is a complex case, but I think it’s a very interesting case, and it’s one I think the jurors would enjoy”.

Also on Monday, both sides asked for edits to a statement about the case that will be circulated to potential jurors ahead of the jury selection process. The Brophy side wanted the sexually explicit nature of the ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’ cover art to be clearly stated.

To that end they requested that the statement include the line: “Plaintiff alleges that he did not and would not consent to defendants’ use of his likeness, and that he is being portrayed in an offensive manner depicting sexual activity with Cardi B”.

Meanwhile, Almánzar’s lawyers asked for some edits on a line setting out her arguments, so that the final version stated that Brophy “is not the man depicted in the image, that the image does not portray actual sexual activity” and that “defendants’ use of his tattoo design did not show plaintiff in a false light or would be highly offensive to a reasonable person in plaintiff’s position”.

We now await the trial with interest.