Bad Bunny Ordered to Pay Ex-Girlfriend Millions for Use of ‘Bad Bunny Baby’

Bad Bunny's ex-partner Carliz de la Cruz has won a lawsuit against him for using her voice in his music without her permission

Bad Bunny

Singer Bad Bunny gestures at the Latin Billboard Awards, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Bad Bunny, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, has had an interesting year so far. Besides serving as a co-chair for this year’s Met Gala but he also sued a man for $150,000 in damages after he uploaded videos of ten songs in their entirety that he performed at the concert without permission. Recently, he was involved in another legal dispute, this time with his ex-partner Carliz de la Cruz whom he dated from 2011 to 2016. First reported by Puerto Rico news site NotiCel, she filed a lawsuit against him in March 2023 claiming he had used a recording of her voice saying the catchphrase “Bad Bunny baby” in several of his songs, live concerts, TV ad spots, and social media clips without her permission. His team originally offered her a $2,000 payout, which she refused. In response to the lawsuit, Bad Bunny’s team claimed copyright concerns and tried to take the case to the state courts but de la Cruz, who is a lawyer, argued that it should remain in Puerto Rican court. Bad Bunny ultimately lost his case and will have to pay $40 million in compensation to de la Cruz, El Diario NY reported.

“Since De La Cruz made it clear that she did not consent to its use, its publication constituted an act of gross negligence, bad faith […] since all parties had and still have knowledge of these facts and even so decided to be reckless and break the law,” the lawsuit stated, according to MSN.

Bad Bunny and de la Cruz first began dating in 2011 after meeting at the University of Puerto Rico in the town of Arecibo, The Guardian reported. They also worked at the same chain supermarket Enoco. At the time, de la Cruz was in charge of scheduling Bad Bunny’s parties and handling his invoices and contracts while he created music. In 2015, he asked de la Cruz to record herself saying the phrase “Bad Bunny baby,” which she came up with and did in several takes on her phone. The following year, he asked her to marry him but then he was signed to Rimas Music and she was accepted into the University of Puerto Rico’s law school. They broke up and briefly got back together in 2017 before separating for good.

After de la Cruz’s recording was featured on his songs “Pa Ti” (2016) and “Dos Mil 16,” (2022) Bad Bunny has also included it in concerts and promotions, as well as on television, radio, and social media. In 2022, a representative from his team at the time offered her $2,000 to purchase the recording for his then-upcoming album Un Verano Sin Ti. However, de la Cruz refused but the song was released with the audio without her consent.

“Since then, thousands of people have commented directly on Carliz’s social media networks, as well as every time she goes to a public place, about the ‘Bad Bunny, baby’. This has caused, and currently causes, that De La Cruz feels worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious,” the lawsuit stated.

Bad Bunny will have to pay $40 million in compensation and damages. He has yet to make a statement about the lawsuit.

“You [Bad Bunny] basically stopped using this recording after 2016. The relationship ended, and you stopped using it. And then, suddenly, in 2022, you wanted to use it. You tried to get permission, but you didn’t, and you used it anyway. That just doesn’t look good,” Ramón G. Vela Córdova, an intellectual property attorney based in San Juan, told VICE.

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