Pop superstar Bad Bunny is being sued for $40m (£33m) by his ex-girlfriend, who says he used a recording of her in two songs without permission.
Carliz De La Cruz Hernández says she recorded the catchphrase “Bad Bunny baby” on her phone in 2015, before he became famous and before they split up.
The line has appeared on the Puerto Rican singer and rapper’s 2017 single Pa Ti and the 2022 song Dos Mil 16.
Bad Bunny was the most-streamed artist on Spotify for the past three years.
He has not publicly responded to Ms De La Cruz’s legal action, which was filed in Puerto Rico earlier this month.
It said the pair got together in 2011 and both worked in a supermarket as Bad Bunny – real name Benito Martínez Ocasio – also made music.
She recorded several versions of herself saying the “Bad Bunny baby” line using the voice notes app at a friend’s home in the bathroom – because it was the quietest room – and sent them to Martínez.
He used them in a string of early tracks on Soundcloud, then released it on Pa Ti, which has had more than 355 million views YouTube platform and 235 million plays on Spotify.
‘Overwhelmed and anxious’
Ms De La Cruz’s lawyers claim that, days before Bad Bunny’s latest album Un Verano Sin Ti came out last year, his representatives offered to buy the rights to the line from her for $2,000 (£1,600).
She refused, and the album was released with her line on it. Un Verano Sin Ti went on to be nominated for album of the year at the Grammy Awards, and the track Dos Mil 16 has had 60 million YouTube views and 280 million Spotify plays.
Ms De La Cruz says her recording has also been used in concerts, and argues that its use amounts to “gross negligence, bad faith and, worse still, an attack on her privacy, morals and dignity”.
Since the latest album came out, thousands of Bad Bunny fans have commented on Ms De La Cruz’s social media accounts as well as talking to her about it when they see her in person, she said.
“This has caused, and currently causes, De La Cruz to feel worried, anguished, intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious,” the legal document said.
“The situation for De La Cruz became unmanageable, to the point that she needed to contact multiple psychologists for help as soon as possible.”
The couple split up in 2016 before briefly getting back together the following year.
Ms De La Cruz is also suing Bad Bunny’s record label Rimas Entertainment and manager Noah Assad.