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Cardi B Is Being Sued For The Use Of A Tattoo On Her Album Cover

Cardi B has defended a recent trip she made to Paris Fashion Week after a model who is suing the rapper said the excursion put doubt on the reasons she gave for postponing an October court hearing into 2022. Based on those claims, Kevin Brophy has asked the court to sanction the rapper.

Brophy sued Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almánzar – in 2017 over her use of his photo on the cover to the 2016 mixtape ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’. The model’s image was inserted into the artwork so that it appeared as if he was performing oral sex on the rapper. You can’t actually see Brophy’s face, but he argues that his distinctive back tattoos made it super obvious that it was him in the image. And that infringed his publicity rights, his lawsuit claimed.

Almánzar tried to have the case dismissed, arguing that the designer who created the artwork significantly altered the original photo of Brophy’s back. Therefore, the use of the photo was “transformative fair use” and not an infringement of Brophy’s publicity rights under Californian law.

The judge conceded that the photo had indeed been altered, but added that “significant elements of plaintiff’s tattoo remain untouched in the final album cover”, meaning the rapper’s fair use arguments would need to be considered by a jury.

The dispute was due in court this month, but – on 10 Sep – Almánzar filed papers seeking to push everything back into 2022. That was on the basis that the lawsuit is being fought in California, while she and her husband Offset are based in Georgia and New Jersey on the other side of the country. Meanwhile, Almánzar gave birth to her second child last month, and therefore wants to keep travel to the minimum, especially given the ongoing COVID concerns.

However, Brophy argued in legal papers last week, if Almánzar is keeping travel to the minimum in order to spend more time with her new child and to keep the risks of contracting COVID to the minimum, why did she fly over to Europe less that three weeks after requesting the court case be postponed?

Almánzar has now hit back in her own filing sent to the judge overseeing the case, in which she argues that the Paris trip came together very last minute, and only required her to be away from her children for a week, whereas a court case in California would likely run for at least three weeks.

“This was the only trip I have taken since the birth of our son on 4 Sep 2021”, she writes. “I was of course very concerned with, and made thorough arrangements for, the well-being and care of our children in our absence. During our absence, our three year old daughter and our newborn son stayed with my mother and a baby nurse for our son, in New York. Both children were and remain in perfect health”.

On her decision to take the trip to Paris Fashion Week, she goes on: “I have had the good fortune to become identified almost as much for fashion as for my music, and the opportunity to be part of the ‘inner circle’ of the elite of the fashion world, representing some of the most famous designers’ work, was a rare opportunity, and important for my career, especially given my absence from live performance over most of the last two years due to the pandemic, and the fact that I have been working on a new, upcoming album”.

She then explains that the Paris opportunity only really came together after her previous 10 Sep court filing, before outlining all the measures she undertook ahead of and during the trip to ensure that her children were properly cared for, and that she and her team reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19 while travelling. She also explains how the itinerary of the Paris trip allowed her to FaceTime her family and children back in New York several times a day.

By contrast, she then writes, “a trial date in October would have required us being in Southern California for up to three weeks or more. The children would have had to be looked after here in California, away from me for extended periods while I would be gone for trial preparation meetings, traveling to and from court, and in the courtroom all day every day during the trial”.

“I was also concerned”, she adds, “I would be distracted and exhausted prior to and during the trial, not only from the travel and trying to juggle family needs and trial at the same time, but from lack of sleep due to my newborn’s schedule and demands”.

Brophy now wants the court hearing to go ahead in December. It remains to be see how the judge rules on that and his request to sanction Almánzar over the Paris trip.

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