Bad Bunny's Ex-Girlfriend Files $40 Million Lawsuit for Allegedly Using Her Voice Without Permission
Bad Bunny's ex-girlfriend is suing the Grammy-winning rapper for more than $40 million over a voice recording she claims was used in his songs without her permission.
The superstar musician was hit with a lawsuit in Puerto Rico by former girlfriend Carliz De La Cruz Hernández, who says she recorded the phrase "Bad Bunny, baby" on her phone in a bathroom in 2015, before popstar's fame skyrocketed.
Fans will know the phrase from the rapper and singer's 2017 single Pa Ti, where De La Cruz's voice opens the track, she claims. It has 358 million YouTube views and 235 million plays on Spotify at the time of publishing. The same recording also appears to be used as the introduction to the 2022 song Dos Mil 16 (63 million views on YouTube and 280 million plays on Spotify).
In a complaint filed earlier this month, De La Cruz says she came up with the phrase and her "distinguishable voice" is being used without her permission — which is claimed to be a violation of Puerto Rico's "Law of the Right to Own Image."
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De La Cruz and Bad Bunny (real name Benito Martínez Ocasio) started dating in 2011, they attended university together and worked at the same supermarket. The court filing says Bad Bunny was constantly creating music and would show his songs to De La Cruz and ask for her opinions.
The catchphrase at the center of the lawsuit was purportedly recorded by De La Cruz on a voice notes app in a friend's bathroom and sent to the rapper in 2015. The complaint alleges it has been used in multiple songs posted on SoundCloud, and has since been used at concerts, promotions, social media, radio and television.
Lawyers for De La Cruz claim that a representative for Bad Bunny had offered to buy the rights to the recording for $2000 in May 2022, just before the album Un Verano Sin Ti was released. The album debuted on the US Billboard 200 at No. 1, and spent 13 weeks in the top spot.
A translation of the court document from Spanish to English states the musician's representative said: "I know you don't like to talk about Voldemort [referring to Bad Bunny], but I need to ask you something."
The offer to buy the voice recording was then allegedly made, which De La Cruz says she rejected. The album, which was nominated for the 2023 Grammy's album of the year, was released with the track Dos Mil 16 unchanged.
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The complaint says the continued use of her recording "has caused, and currently causes De La Cruz to feel worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious." The court filing also says thousands of people have commented on her social media about the line, and "the situation for De La Cruz became unmanageable, to the point that she needed to contact multiple psychologists for help as soon as possible."
De La Cruz broke up with Bad Bunny in 2016. They briefly rekindled the relationship in 2017 before again separating.
Bad Bunny's record label Rimas Entertainment and manager Noah Assad have also been named as defendants in the lawsuit.