Cardi B battles in $5m copyright trial over tattoos on album cover image

Cardi B and the lawyer involved in a heated argument man suing her for copyright infringement The trial was briefly stopped by the judge Wednesday after it became so intense

A. Barry Cappello (an attorney representing a man who believes the rapper misrepresented himself on the cover of a 2016 mixtape) asked him several questions.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Cartney sent jurors out to Santa Ana, California’s courtroom to tell both sides that he was considering a mistrial after the testy back and forth between Cappello (the star witness) and Cappello. After a break, he called the arguing “unprofessional” and “not productive” but allowed questioning to resume – placing new restrictions for both sides.

Kevin Michael Brophy is seeking $5 million from Cardi B over the appearance of some of his distinctive back tattoos on the mixtape’s artwork, which shows a tattooed man from behind with his head between the rapper’s legs.

The rapper said she felt Brophy hadn’t suffered any consequences as a result of the artwork, yet has harassed her legally for five years. She claimed that she had missed a special moment with her youngest child who just turned one.

“I have empathy for people,” she said. “I care about people. I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I missed my child’s first step by being here.”

Brophy told jurors Tuesday that he felt “humiliated” by the racy artwork.

At one point, Cardi B pointed out that the man’s face cannot be seen in the artwork. Capello asked her to calm down, but she instead barked back at the lawyer’s contention that she knew about photo-editing software used to put Brophy’s tattoos – which have been featured in magazines – on another model’s body.

“It’s not your client’s back,” she said about the image, which features a Black model. Brophy is a white woman. The rapper said she posted a photo of the “famous Canadian model” on her social media.

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, said an artist used only a “small portion” of the tattoos without her knowledge. She had previously said the cover art – created by Timm Gooden — was transformative fair use of Brophy’s likeness.

Cappello stated that Gooden was paid $50 for a design, but that he was told to find another tattoo once he had submitted his initial draft. He said Gooden googled “back tattoos” before he found an image and pasted it on the cover.

Cardi B’s lawyer, Peter Anderson, said Brophy and the mixtape image are unrelated, noting the model did not have neck tattoos, which Brophy does.

“It’s not him,” the rapper said. “To me, it doesn’t look like his back at all. The tattoo was modified, which is protected by the First Amendment.”

She said the image hasn’t hindered Brophy’s employment with a popular surf and skate apparel brand or his ability to travel the world for opportunities.

“He hasn’t gotten fired from his job,” said Cardi B, who implied that the mixtape was not a lucrative one for her. “He hasn’t gotten a divorce. How did he suffer? He’s still in a surf shop at his job. Please tell me how he’s suffered.”

Brophy, a self-described family man, said he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cardi B’s representatives to remove the image, but he never received a response. The rapper said she hadn’t seen the letter.

At one point, Cardi B said she doesn’t check her mailbox because that’s for “old people” – leading some in the courtroom to chuckle.

Cardi B was attacked by about 30 high school students as she left the courthouse. They were trying to take selfies of her. She smiled and waved as she walked toward her car with security before telling them that she would be more responsive after the trial.

Last month, Cardi B pleaded guilty to a criminal case stemming from a pair of brawls at New York City strip clubs that required her to perform 15 days of community service. Earlier this year, the rapper was awarded $1.25 million in a defamation lawsuit against a celebrity news blogger who posted videos falsely stating she used cocaine, had contracted herpes and engaged in prostitution.

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