Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Album Cover Child Porn Lawsuit Revived By Federal Judge – Update

Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Album Cover Child Porn Lawsuit Revived By Federal Judge – Update

UPDATED with new ruling: A federal appeals court today revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit for alleged child sexual exploitation brought by the Los Angeles man pictured as a naked infant over 30 years ago on the cover of the landmark Nirvana album Nevermind.

Spencer Elden sought personal injury damages from the now-defunct group’s company, various record companies and art directors on the grounds that he was a victim of child pornography when, as a 4-month-old baby, he was photographed naked in a pool for the cover of the multimillion-selling 1991 album. The district court dismissed the action last year as barred by the 10-year statute of limitations.

A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal and sent the case back to Los Angeles federal court for further proceedings, finding that because each republication of the cover photo may constitute a new personal injury, the plaintiff’s complaint was not barred by the statute of limitations.

“The album cover art has become iconic and highly recognizable,” Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote for the panel.

“It has been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has been frequently referenced, imitated and parodied. Commentators have opined that the naked infant reaching for a dollar symbolizes the ills of a capitalistic society.”

Elden’s lawsuit argued that the cover image suggests a “sex worker grabbing for a dollar bill.”

PREVIOUSLY on Sep. 4, 2022: The man whose infant image graced the cover of Nirvana’s multimillion-selling Nevermind album has seen his lawsuit about that photo tossed by a Los Angeles judge.

Spencer Elden, age 31, claimed in his legal papers that the shot of him swimming towards a dollar bill on a fish hook amounted to child porn.

US District Judge Fernando Olguin of Los Angeles disagreed. He said Elden had waited far too long to take legal action against several record labels and the band’s drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic, guitarist Kurt Cobain’s estate and photographer Kirk Weddle. The album came out in 1991 and was one of the most popular albums of the Grunge era that spawned such Seattle bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, among others.

Elden filed three versions of his lawsuit, and Olguin’s dismissal prevents him from filing a fourth.

The Nirvana album cover shoot tapped then-four-month old Elden for the job because his father was friendly with the photographer. His family received $200 to place hin the Pasadena Aquatic Center pool for the iconic shot.

Elden had the album title tattooed on his chest and recreated the picture in 2016 for the album’s 25th anniversary. But he claimed trauma from the image’s widespread circulation.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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