Court Reverses Dismissal in Nirvana’s “Nevermin” Lawsuit Over Album Cover
The dismissal of Spencer Elden’s lawsuit against Nirvana regarding the iconic cover of their 1991 album Nevermind has been reportedly reversed, as stated by Pitchfork. Elden, who appeared as a four-month-old on the album cover, filed the lawsuit in 2021, claiming that the image constituted child pornography.
The initial dismissal of the lawsuit occurred in January 2022, after Elden failed to meet a deadline for responding to a motion for dismissal from Nirvana’s legal team. Subsequently, Elden filed an adjusted suit later that month. The suit faced dismissal again in September 2022, this time by U.S. District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin, citing an expired statute of limitations.
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On December 21, 2023, a three-judge panel reversed Olguin’s ruling, emphasizing that “each republication” of child pornography “may constitute a new personal injury.” However, it’s noted in a footnote that the question of whether the “Nevermind” album cover meets the definition of child pornography is not the focus of this appeal.
The ruling highlighted Elden’s original complaint, which cited more recent reissues of the album cover, including a 30th-anniversary edition released in 2021. Notably, Elden himself has recreated the cover multiple times since 1991.
A lawyer representing Nirvana stated to Pitchfork, “This procedural setback does not change our view. We will defend this meritless case with vigor and expect to prevail.”
A lawyer for Elden responded, “The wholesale worldwide commercial exploitation of a baby might be iconic, but that doesn’t make it right and certainly doesn’t make it legal.”
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