Court resurrects lawsuit over Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover

A US federal appeals court has resurrected a lawsuit concerning alleged child sexual exploitation linked to the iconic Nirvana album cover of Nevermind. Spencer Elden, the Los Angeles man depicted as a naked infant on the album’s cover over 30 years ago, sought personal injury damages, claiming he was a victim of child pornography.

The lawsuit, previously dismissed by a district court due to the 10-year statute of limitations, has now been revived by a panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that each republication of the cover photo could be considered a new personal injury, thus not barred by the statute of limitations.

Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, nominated by President George W. Bush, emphasised the iconic nature of the album cover art, displayed in the Museum of Modern Art and frequently referenced in various forms. Elden’s argument posited the image as suggestive of a “sex worker grabbing for a dollar bill.”

This legal saga began when Elden, now 31, filed a lawsuit in 2022, claiming the image amounted to child pornography. However, a Los Angeles judge dismissed the case, stating Elden had waited too long to take legal action. The recent appeals court decision has breathed new life into the lawsuit, sending it back to the Los Angeles federal court for further proceedings.

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