Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny is being sued by his ex-girlfriend for $40 million over claims he used a recording of her voice without permission or compensation.
Carliz De La Cruz Hernández claims that in 2015, prior to her split with Bad Bunny — whose real name is Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio — and before his rise to international fame, she recorded the phrase “Bad Bunny baby” on her phone.
That voice recording, she says, has been used on two of the Grammy-award winning artist’s songs, his 2017 single “Pa Ti” and the 2022 song “Dos Mil 16.” Both tracks have more than 200 million plays each on Spotify and the latter appears on the chart-topping album “Un Verano Sin Ti.”
According to court documents filed in Puerto Rico earlier this month, De La Cruz said she came up with the phrase and her “distinguishable voice” is being used without her permission. Her lawyers argue Bad Bunny’s use violates Puerto Rico’s “law of the right to own image.”
“Thousands of people have commented directly on Carliz’s social media networks, as well as every time she goes to a public place, about ‘Bad Bunny baby,'” the lawsuit states. “This has caused, and currently causes, De La Cruz to feel worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious.”
De la Cruz and Bad Bunny dated on and off starting in 2011, according to the lawsuit. She alleges in the court documents that Bad Bunny offered her $2,000 to buy the recording in 2022 but she declined. A deal was never reached and he then went ahead and used the recording without her express permission, according to the lawsuit.
De la Cruz is now seeking at least $40 million.
Bad Bunny, 29, has not publicly addressed the lawsuit. His label, Rimas Entertainment, and his manager, Noah Kamil Assad Byrne, are also named in the suit. CNBC reached out to Rimas Entertainment for comment.
Bad Bunny rose to prominence in 2018 after being featured on the Cardi B chart-topper “I Like It.” He’s since become one of the most prolific hit makers in Latin music and was the most-streamed artist on Spotify for the past three years.
Bad Bunny is set to headline the 2023 Coachella music festival next month.