A federal appeals court has resurrected a case from long ago that was filed by Spencer Elden.
Elden is the man shown swimming naked on the cover of Nirvana’s immensely popular record “Nevermind” when he was an infant. As a result, the iconic grunge pioneers are again in the middle of legal problems.
A California judge dismissed the case last year due to Elden’s missing deadline but let him resubmit a new version; on Thursday, the Ninth Circuit court reinstated the lawsuit after the judge ruled against the band. The amended version was similarly rejected because it was submitted after the 10-year statute of limitations had expired.
But this Monday, the court remanded the case to the lower court because “any republication” of the photograph may constitute fresh “personal damage,” which includes a re-release of the album in 2021 to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Elden, now 32 years old, originally sued Universal Music Group, the band’s surviving members, and the estate of late vocalist Kurt Cobain in 2021. He claimed the iconic album cover was “pornographic” and that he suffered “lifelong damage” as a result of having his nude body featured in such a public image.
According to him, the band betrayed their word and included his privates on the cover, even though neither he nor his guardians had consented to the shooting. Photographed in 1991 in Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, he was just four months old.
A three-judge panel from California’s Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that verdict and remanded the matter to the lower court on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Elden requests “a jury trial and $150,000 from each defendant in real damages as well as punitive damages,” in addition to “an injunction on future sales, marketing, and distribution.”
Elden has gotten a giant tattoo of the word “Nevermind” on his chest.
Released in 1991, Nevermind has surpassed 30 million copies sold globally.