Nirvana Baby files a lawsuit against Nevermind for album cover

By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

Image source, DCG
Caption for the image

Over 30 million Nevermind copies have been sold around the world

Following the dismissal of his first complaint, the plaintiff who had been pictured on Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover as a child has renewed his suit against the band.

Spencer Elden claims that the photo is child pornography. He filed papers Wednesday and met the deadline given by the judge for his reinstatement.

The photo in which he was pictured naked in a swimming-pool pool caused him permanent emotional distress, he said.

Nirvana lawyers are yet to reply.

Elden was 30 years old when his case was dismissed after he failed to reply to the motion to dismiss filed last month by Nirvana along with their co-defendants.

An allegation that Elden was sexually abused as a baby by the photographer is dropped in the amended complaint.

Nirvana’s lawyers challenged that assertion, stating that the photograph was taken before US law permitted victims to sue for sex trafficking.

Elden says that Nirvana had “intentionally” promoted an image of child pornography in order to market the 1991 album. He also stated that he earned at least tens and millions of dollars.

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Robert Fisher was the art director of Nevermind Cover. He was originally named in the lawsuit but was dropped on 22 Dec.

He includes a mock-up of his artwork using an image from a stock photo of a swimming baby whose genitalia have not been exposed.

Fisher points out, too that Elden’s genitalia was digitally removed by Fisher and the record label.

Elden claims that band members made the conscious decision to use the graphic more explicitly.

‘Permanent emotional distress’

According to Spencer’s lawyers, “Like other artists of controversial album covers,” the defendants wanted attention with a sexually explicit image. It was intended to focus on Spencer’s appropriately positioned and enlarged genitals.

Additionally, Spencer is accused of showing his naked genitals while grasping for cash and resembling a sex worker’s actions.

They claim that he has suffered “lifelong damage” which includes “extreme, permanent emotional distress”, “interference in his normal development and education progress”, and “medical treatment”.

He is asking for damages of at least $150,000 (£109,000) from each of the defendants, who include surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; the managers of late frontman Kurt Cobain’s estate; Cobain’s former wife Courtney Love; record labels Geffen and Universal Music; and photographer Kirk Weddle.

The defendants argued that Elden’s arguments were not meritorious in their last month motion for dismissal.

“Elden’s claim about Nevermind’s album cover photograph being ‘child pornography’ is not true,” the lawyers stated. Noting that any person who had a copy would be “on Elden’s theory,” they added that it was not surprising that Elden claimed that Nevermind’s album cover photo is child pornography. [be]Convicted of felony child pornography possession

The couple added that Elden, up until recent times, had enjoyed the fame of “Nirvana babies”.

They said that he had reenacted the photo in return for a fee many times. He has also worn the album title… across his chest. A self-parodying onesie with nude colors has been featured on talk shows.

Elden has given defendants until January 27 to respond to Eldens’ new complaint.

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