Classic Rock News

The lawsuit surrounding the album artwork of Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind is apparently not over yet despite being dismissed in September.

To recap: The initial lawsuit was filed by Spencer Elden, the 31-year-old man who appeared on the cover of Nevermind as a baby. As previously reported, Elden sued Nirvana and other parties (including Courtney Love) beginning in August 2021 on child pornography charges related to appearing on the cover naked. The lawsuit stated, in part, “Defendants knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so…Despite this knowledge, Defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking.”

In December 2021, Nirvana’s legal team moved to dismiss the lawsuit citing a number of damming points against Elden’s claims including, “Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby.’ He has re-enacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title ‘Nevermind’ tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay; and he has used the connection to try to pick up women.” The lawsuit was dismissed in January 2022, with Elden refiling the lawsuit just days later.

In September 2022, Judge Fernando M. Olguin ruled that Elden’s case “was filed well past the statute of limitations for such cases.” Furthermore, “Federal child pornography laws have a 10-year time limit that starts from when a victim ‘reasonably discovers’ either the crime or the injury caused by it. Under either time limit, Judge Olguin said Elden had clearly filed his case too late.”

This leads to today with Spin reporting Elden and his legal team have a new filing with California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They claim the statute of limitations doesn’t apply due to 2006’s Masha Law, “which allows child pornography victims to seek monetary damages into adulthood.”

Elden’s legal team issued a statement about the new filing where they say, in part, “Courts have repeatedly held that distribution of child pornography infringes a victim’s dignity interests no matter the victim’s age at the time of distribution … [Kurt] Cobain’s preoccupation with pornographic imagery started at a very early age. One of Cobain’s school classmates discovered him drawing pornography as a young child.” (The legal team also claims journal entries from the late Cobain “described his twisted vision for the ‘Nevermind’ album cover as a manifestation of his emotional and sexual disturbances.”

Additionally, Elden’s legal team claims the album cover ” … understandably causes him extreme ongoing psychic or emotional injury for which he is entitled to damages and an injunction. Although this remedy will not rid the world of his sexualized image, it will provide him the means to get mental health treatment and give him the benefit of knowing that the distribution and repeated violation of his privacy by Appellees will finally stop.”

No one from the Nirvana camp has yet to comment on these updates.

BY THE NUMBERS: Nirvana’s 'Nevermind'

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.