Judge Dismisses Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Album Cover Lawsuit for Second Time

by Craig Garrett

A California Judge has thrown out a child pornography lawsuit resulting from the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind. The album has gone on to be considered a seminal music classic and has been listened to by generations of fans. The judge dismissed a child pornography lawsuit filed against Nirvana on Friday. This was because the statute of limitations had expired, according to Reuters. Spencer Elden was photographed naked as a baby for the cover of the album.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin wrote an eight-page ruling that was obtained by Rolling Stone. “In short, because it is undisputed that [Elden] did not file his complaint within 10 years after he discovered a violation… the court concludes that his claim is untimely,” the Judge said.

Former Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Chad Channing were among the defendants named in Elden’s August 2021 complaint. Kurt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and two other estate managers were also named. The list continues with album cover photographer Kirk Weddle and art director Robert Fisher at Geffen Records and Warner Records, as well as Universal Music Group. Elden was seeking $150,000 in compensation from each defendant under legal precedence.

Nirvana has sparred with Spencer Elden before

This is not the first time Judge Olguin has dismissed Elden’s case against the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” stars. The judge previously ruled in favor of dismissal back in January but noted that should Elden file another complaint addressing the “defects” in the defendant’s motion to dismiss, he may be successful.

The judge has now rendered his final decision on the matter. He detailed the decision in his written ruling. “Because plaintiff had an opportunity to address the deficiencies in his complaint regarding the statute of limitations, the court is persuaded that it would be futile to afford plaintiff a fourth opportunity to file an amended complaint.”

Spencer Elden had damning claims in his lawsuit. It said that Nirvana “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer.” It also claimed “they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so.” 

The band’s lawyers fired back. They reportedly claimed that the statute of limitations had since expired. They also pointed out that Elden had “spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby.'” The claim is not without merit. Spencer seemed to happily recreate the image back in 2016 for the 25th anniversary of the album.

Bert Deixler, a lawyer for Nirvana was happy with the results. “We are pleased that this meritless case has been brought to a speedy final conclusion,” he told Reuters.