Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Geffen)

Music

Nirvana 'Nevermind' cover art lawsuit is finally dismissed

In August of 2021, the iconic naked baby on the cover of Nirvana’s most famous album Nevermind became the subject of much controversy when his adult counter-part – Spencer Elden – decided to file a lawsuit that stated that the band had “violated” child pornography laws by using and perpetuating the image of the naked baby on the album cover.

Elden also insisted that his life had been adversely affected due to the wild popularity of the album which is now seen as a cultural artefact that effectively communicates the cultural sensibilities of the 1990s in America. The lawsuit made the claim that Elden had suffered “lifelong damages” because people always associated him with the subversive cover art.

The band members and their legal team responded to Elden’s lawsuit by reminding everyone that Elden had been aware of the fact that he was the naked baby for decades now but is only coming forward at this later stage. Elden said that he had previously tried to grapple with that fact by following the motto of “never mind, I was only young” but it had been bothering him a lot in recent times which made him file a lawsuit.

Attacking Elden for spending “three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby,'” the band refused to accept Elden’s claims and went to court. In a series of recent developments, the case was dismissed by Judge Fernando M. Olguin “with leave to amend” because Elden’s team had missed the deadline to file an opposition in court.

The deadline to file a second complaint has been extended to January 13th, failing which the case will be “dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute and/or failure to comply with a court order”. The Nirvana estate has maintained that this is not a child pornography case because that would mean millions of Americans who have the album cover in their homes are now guilty of felony possession of child pornography.

In paperwork viewed by SPIN, the ruling stated: “Failure to timely file a Second Amended Complaint shall result in this action being dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute and/or failure to comply with a court order.”

“Elden’s claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, not serious,” the Nirvana estate commented during the first filing of the lawsuit. “A brief examination of the photograph, or Elden’s own conduct (not to mention the photograph’s presence in the homes of millions of Americans who, on Elden’s theory, are guilty of felony possession of child pornography) makes that clear.”