According to reports, famed Seattle-born grunge band Nirvana has filed to dismiss a lawsuit against them by Spencer Elden, 30, aka the “Nirvana Baby” who has claimed the band’s album cover, featuring him, violates child pornography laws.
The image in question is on the cover of Nirvana’s beloved 1991 album, Nevermind. The album cover shows Spencer as an infant underwater reaching for a dollar bill, with his genitals showing.
Elden alleges that the image was meant to be sexual in nature and “trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer.”
Nirvana’s team, which includes surviving members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with frontman Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, have filed a motion submitted Wednesday (December 22) to throw out the lawsuit, calling it “not serious,” adding it was filed years too late.
The team also adds that Elden has willingly profited off the notoriety. The filing marks the first formal response to the suit from the band’s team or representatives.
The motion reads: “Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’. He has reenacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title ‘Nevermind’ tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay, and he has used the connection to try to pick up women.”
It continues: “Elden’s claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, not serious. 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.”
According to Consequence, “Federal child pornography law has a 10-year statute of limitations, beginning when a victim ‘reasonably discovers’ the violation itself or the harm caused by it.” That would mean Elden would have had to “discover” the image around 2011, the band’s team says.
Nirvana’s team says: “But the Nevermind cover photograph was taken in 1991. It was world-famous by no later than 1992. 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. He has been fully aware of the facts of both the supposed ‘violation’ and ‘injury’ for decades.”
The defendants in the case include the band as well as Universal Music Group and Nevermind photographer Kirk Weddle.
The motion continues: “In addition to his child pornography claim, Elden has alleged that the creation of the photograph for the album cover art entailed the sex trafficking of Elden when he was a baby. Setting aside that this premise is absurd, the statute Elden invokes to cover conduct in 1991, became effective on December 19, 2003, and has no retroactive application to conduct by a defendant that pre-dates its effective date.”
As part of his suit, Elden amended his argument to include entries from Cobain’s journal before he died, as part of his attempt to prove the former frontman intentionally meant to be pornographic.
Many outside of the proceedings (as well as inside) have called Elden’s cast “frivolous” and likely to be tossed out.