Cardi B looks pretty relaxed on the cover of her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1, but if she had known that image would be sending her to court four years later, she might’ve taken another swig of that Corona.
This year’s Billboard Woman of the Year is headed to court, according to The Hollywood Reporter, for the graphic used on the album’s cover. The plaintiff in the case is Kevin Michael Brophy Jr., who is suing the rapper for photoshopping his back tattoo onto someone else’s body and using it in the provocative photo without his permission.
I can always look forward to a flood of interesting comments anytime I post something about tattoos. Well, I got news about a new summary judgment ruling that sets up a trial for Cardi B… https://t.co/pO54WBGfT2 pic.twitter.com/ExOD2hntLr
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) December 7, 2020
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney rejected Cardi B’s lawyer’s argument that the image falls under “transformative fair use” law, which would allow an image to be used if the changes made to it were significant enough.
“A reasonable jury in this case could conclude that there are insufficient transformative or creative elements on the [Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1] cover to constitute a transformative use of Plaintiff’s tattoo,” Carney wrote.
Testimony from Timm Gooden, who designed the album cover, was part of the reason Carney decided to send the lawsuit to trial. Gooden testified that he submitted a draft of the cover to Cardi B’s team but was told to choose another tattoo. So, he searched “back tattoos” online, found a photo of Brophy’s ink and used it in the graphic.
Brophy’s tattoo features a tiger and snake. The original image that was not used also featured a tiger—Hobbes, the imaginary tiger friend of a creative little boy in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.