The man who appeared as a baby on the album cover of Nirvana's iconic 1991 album "Nevermind" is suing the band and estate of the late lead singer Kurt Cobain for child pornography.
In the lawsuit, which seeks $150,000 in damages from 17 named defendants, Spencer Elden, 30, claims that former members of the grunge band, as well as the executor of Cobain’s estate, record companies, art directors and others, violated federal criminal child pornography laws after "trafficking" his image worldwide, according to CBSLA.
Elden said that his "identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day,” according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.
The suit further states that the defendants "knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so. … Despite this knowledge, defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking."
Lawyers representing Elden allege that his parents had not signed a release authorizing the use of the photo and did not receive compensation despite a 2008 NPR report that said the photographer, Kirk Weddle, who was friends with Elden's father, Rick, offered him $200 at the time.
"[He] calls us up and was like, 'Hey Rick, wanna make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink?,'" Rick recounted. "I was like, 'What's up?' And he's like, 'Well, I'm shooting kids all this week, why don't you meet me at the Rose Bowl, throw your kid in the pool and have a drink?' And we just had a big party at the pool, and no one had any idea what was going on!"
The result was a photo depicting a naked baby swimming underwater towards a fishhook with a dollar bill attached to it. The image, chosen by Cobain, became the cover for Nirvana's "Nevermind" but Elden claims in his lawsuit that the defendants "used 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."
Elden has subsequently "suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages,” according to the complaint.
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