Photo: Nirvana’s album cover – partial (1991 – DGC/Geffen) | By Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Music | Nirvana fans could be forgiven for thinking they were reading The Onion this week when the news broke that Spencer Elden, who as an infant was photographed naked in a swimming pool for Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind album cover, is suing the band, claiming that the famous image constitutes child pornography.
Elden’s representative at the Marsh Law Firm say Elden was “exploited as a child and was never able to give consent when a picture exposing his naked genitals was used on the cover of Nevermind,” and in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment the firm even alleged that the 30 million-selling album’s “commercial success was due to the controversial cover. … Nirvana used commercial child pornography depicting Spencer as an essential element of a record promotion scheme commonly utilized in the music industry to get attention wherein album covers posed children in a sexually provocative manner to gain notoriety, drive sales, and garner media attention, and critical reviews. And it worked.”
“Nirvana exploited me when I was a baby to sell their music, but there is a person behind every image,” Elden said in a statement. “I’m just asking the band to do what they should have done 30 years ago and redact my genitals from the image out of respect for my privacy. If the world could forget about it, then maybe I could forget about it too.” The Marsh Law Firm also released the following statement: “Our client Spencer Elden never had a choice. Nirvana’s use of our client’s picture in their album cover is nothing less than child exploitation. This is an issue of consent — something that our client never had the opportunity to give.”
While it seems odd that Elden, now age 30, would wait until now to file his federal complaint filed in the United States District Court in the Central District of California, one of his attorneys, Maggie Mabie, stresses, “The law still allows for Spencer to file his lawsuit and he is acting now because he wants his privacy to finally be respected for the first time in his life.” Another one of his lawyers, Robert Y. Lewis – who specializes in child pornography, crime victims’ rights, criminal restitution, and copyright cases — has an 85 percent win record on cases going to verdict, according to his profile page on the Marsh Law Firm website. So, is it possible that Elden has a real case here?
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Read the opinions of counsel Bryan Cunningham (Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman) and Michael Ackerman here: