Bad Bunny has been hit with a $40 million lawsuit by an ex-girlfriend who alleges he used a voice recording of her uttering the now-famous catchphrase “Bad Bunny Baby” in two of his songs without her consent.
The lawsuit, filed by Carliz De La Cruz Hernández in Puerto Rico, claims that she never legally agreed for her voice recording to be used in Bad Bunny’s songs, live performances, radio, television or any other form of media. She alleges that his use of the recording constitutes a violation of moral rights under U.S. copyright law — under which sampling any amount of a sound recording requires a license — and a similar law in Puerto Rico known as Ley de Derechos Morales de Autor. She also claims that it violates the Ley del Derecho sobre la Propia Imagen, or right to self-image, with De La Cruz Hernández arguing that the unauthorized use of the recording commercially exploits her voice and identity.
According to the filing, De La Cruz Hernández and Bad Bunny (born Benito A. Martinez Ocasio) began their relationship in 2011 when they both worked at the Econo Supermarket in Vega Baja, Benito’s hometown in Puerto Rico. At the time, the then-aspiring artist was constantly churning out tracks — and according to De La Cruz Hernández, he often asked for her opinion on his music. She would offer feedback in addition to helping him organize his performances, rundowns and contracts, according to the complaint.
In 2015, at Benito’s request, De La Cruz Hernández says she recorded the phrase “Bad Bunny Baby” via the voice memo app on her phone. The future tagline first publicly appeared on the 2016 track “Pa’ Ti” featuring Bryant Myers, on which De La Cruz Hernández argues that her voice was used without her legal authorization and without credit. Her voice can be heard at the start of the Latin trap song and again at the 2:40 mark.
De La Cruz Hernández’s voice is again featured on the track “Dos Mil 16? off Bad Bunny’s blockbuster 2022 album, Un Verano Sin Ti, also without her authorization, the complaint states. She claims that Bad Bunny’s representatives sent her a contract on May 5, 2022, the day before the record’s official release, offering her $20,000 for the use of her voice. The next day, before reaching any settlement, the album dropped with “Dos Mil 16” on the tracklist, she alleges.
“Dos Mil 16” peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at No. 16 on the Hot Latin Songs chart. The track has more than 60 million views on YouTube.
De La Cruz Hernández is also suing Rimas Entertainment, the label that released both “Pa Ti” and Un Verano Sin Ti.
Billboard reached out to Rimas and Bad Bunny for comment but did not hear back at press time.