Nirvana was a punk rock band that rose to fame in 1991, but soon met its untimely demise in 1994 following Kurt Cobain’s death. Nirvana released a wide variety of songs, and each album featured a memorable album cover that truly captured the essence of each song that was created. One of the most memorable album covers happens to be the 1991 Nevermind album, which featured a young (and by young, we mean the age of a baby) Spencer Elden, underwater and unclothed.
Unfortunately, the now-adult Elden has recently taken action and filed a very serious lawsuit against the band, claiming that the band committed one of the most horrendous atrocities that one could make: child pornography.
The lawsuit that Elden had filed stated that Nirvana and the record labels that helped in the creation of Nevermind “intentionally commercially marketed Spencer’s child pornography and leveraged the shocking nature of his image to promote themselves and their music at his expense”. Elden then went on to claim that picture being used in the album cover had caused him “lifelong damages”, and he expected each defendant to compensate him $15,000 each. This includes surviving band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, Geffen Records, Cobain’s former wife and proprietor of his fortune and estate, Courtney Love, and several other defendants that hadn’t been named at the moment.
While the photo that was used for the cover was at least 30 years old, one of Elden’s attorney’s, Maggie Mabie, confirmed that the lawsuit was well within the statutes of limitations of the federal child pornography law for several reasons, one of which being that the album that was using the picture was still circulating in the public and making money.
Now, the reason that Elden was even chosen to be on the album in the first place was because Kirk Weddle, the photographer who took photos for Nirvana, was good friends with Elden’s father back before the album was produced, and Weddle had also happened to had just finished taking photos of several swimming babies at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center in Pasedena, California. Cobain had been looking through the photos that Weddle had taken, and had thought that Elden’s baby photo of him, reaching for a dollar bill on a fishing hook underwater, would make for a great album cover.
Of course, while Kurt Cobain is long-gone, it’s important to note that the band, more than likely, was not trying to exploit any sort of child pornography for their own personal gain. The 90s were a different sort of time back in the day, and since the photo wasn’t meant to be viewed as anything else but innocent, it isn’t possible that the band was trying to do anything bad on purpose.
However, what was accceptable then isn’t quite acceptable now, and if mistakes had been made, it’s up to the culprit to do what is right and amend the issue. Whether $15,000 is the appropriate solution or not, it’s definitely certain that an agreement between both parties needs to be made.