Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Cover Art Lawsuit Dismissed
A district court judge in California has dismissed a child-pornography lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a baby for the cover of Nirvana's 1991 album, Nevermind.
The lawsuit from August claimed that the band "knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so."
Judge Fernando M. Olguin ruled that the case be dismissed on the grounds that Elden's legal team failed to meet a Dec. 30 deadline to file an opposition to the Nirvana estate’s request. Elden now has until Jan. 13 to file a second complaint, at which time, according to paperwork viewed by Spin, the court will “grant defendants’ motion and give plaintiff one last opportunity to amend his complaint.” The Nirvana estate then has until Jan. 27 to reply to the new filing. If Elden's team does not meet the Jan. 13 deadline, Elden will not be able to file again.
In a statement last month, the Nirvana estate maintained that not only has Elden profited from his role in the album's cover art but that the statute of limitations for a federal child-pornography lawsuit has almost certainly already expired. The suit is valid only 10 years from the point that a victim "reasonably discovers" it, and the estate claims that Elden was familiar with the photograph's notoriety before 2011, when Elden was 20 years old.
"Long before 2011, as Elden has pled, Elden knew about the photograph, and knew that he (and not someone else) was the baby in the photograph," the statement said. "He has been fully aware of the facts of both the supposed 'violation' and 'injury' for decades."
Additionally, the estate asserts that Elden's lawsuit, if successful, would then criminally implicate every owner of Nevermind. "Elden's claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is 'child pornography' is, on its face, not serious," the band wrote. "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."