Experts weigh in on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album cover lawsuit: ‘Dead on arrival’


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The assets of Dave Grohl, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobian are facing litigation

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For an album hailed as Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release is a special milestone. Specifically for the record, though, there’s a lawsuit going on on occasion.

Last month, Spencer Alden — who was featured naked on the album cover as an infant — filed suit against nirvana The estate of musicians Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as Kurt Cobain and his widow, Courtney Love Claiming that they sexually abused her when they took advantage of her nude image.


He also alleged that the photo – in which he is shown naked in a swimming pool – is child pornography. The suit names fifteen people – including photographer Kirk Weidl – each of whom he is seeking $150,000 per person. new York Times.

Alden claimed in the lawsuit that his involvement with the album caused him “permanent harm”.

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The matter has been further complicated by disputed facts. In the suit, Alden claims that neither he nor his parents ever consented to a nude photoshoot, but over the years, various outlets have reported that Alden’s parents consented and they were Paid $250 for a modeling session.

The announcement of the lawsuit raised many eyebrows both inside and outside the music industry, raising many questions as to why the lawsuit was filed in the first place – notably Alden’s participation in the recreation of the iconic picture several times in celebration of others. attended to celebrate. Album release anniversary.

As the federal lawsuit awaits its fate — and faces questions of its authenticity and legal status — entertainment trial attorney Tom Lallas told Granthshala Business he believes the suit is “dead on arrival”. Is.

“In my judgment, it is very clear that a photograph of a naked child in a swimming pool is not sexually explicit conduct that would violate the statute,” he explained. “…I don’t think any reasonable person can objectively conclude that this image of a four-month-old baby in a swimming pool is sexually explicit conduct.”

The lawsuit alludes to the 1986 case United States v. Friend which served to define child pornography by a set of six criteria. The case established that the focal point and setting of the image, among other criteria, help determine whether the image qualifies as pornography.

On the “Nevermind” album cover, Alden can be seen floating in the water while chasing dollar bills on a fishing hook. Lallas argues that money is the real focal point of the image, as the image is a “metaphor about capitalism”.

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Lallas also argued that the setting of the image – a swimming pool – did not contain a “sexually suggestive reference”.

Friends is a component of the case that Lallas said is overweight here—whether the child in any of the photos is fully or partially clothed. Alden is famously nude on the cover, but that argument is also untenable, he said.

“In that context, every picture of a naked child would be child pornography,” he said. “I don’t think any reasonable, well-intentioned, educated person would ever advocate that standard.”

Remaining criteria of the mate – whether the child is depicted in an unnatural posture, or in inappropriate attire, given the child’s age, whether the visual depiction suggests sexual promiscuity or willingness to engage in sexual activity and whether the visual depiction Intention is or is designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer — easily trumped in this case, Lallas said.

“Only looking at the picture objectively, it does not meet the legal standards of the statute mentioned in the complaint,” he said. “It does not meet the legal standard of case law cited in the case.”

Lallas said: “While looking at the totality of the circumstances, I think this lawsuit will be dismissed, I think lawyers are at serious risk of sanctions referred to as Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and I believe this action ends when more complaints come in.”

As far as Alden recreating the picture several times – though never nude in any entertainment in particular – the Lallas said he proved the “absence of harm” that Alden claimed in his suit. Was.

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“It is a conscious act by an adult to validate an album cover photograph and he has gone far beyond that,” the lawyer said. “In interviews, for example, he indicated in an interview that he wanted to take a nude picture of her as an adult. So this participation, which has been voluntary, knowledgeable and intelligent, completely undermines the concept that it has been damaged by the picture.”

Entertainment litigator Neville Johnson echoed similar sentiments, saying the case was “unlikely to be won.”

Johnson stated that despite the fact that the “Nevermind” cover was created “in a commercial context”, its nature as “an artistic creation” distinguishes it from child pornography or even invasion of privacy. .

Additionally, Johnson said that the reconstruction of the album cover—as well as the word “Nevermind” for Alden tattooed on his chest—”undermined the feasibility” of his case.

“No one knows who he is,” Johnson said in reference to Alden’s trouble with strangers looking at his genitals. “He made himself famous, he has now sought limelight.”

Because of the ambiguity of the case, Johnson said he thinks it likely won’t even go to trial.

“I think it’s probably going to be tossed,” he shared. “What they can do first is file what’s called a motion to dismiss, which basically says, ‘Given the facts of your case, this won’t work. , actionable.” And I think the court may very well dismiss the motion to dismiss.”

On the off chance that the motion of dismissal has not been filed or has itself been tossed, a motion for summary judgment may be filed, which shall likewise attempt to point out the lapses in the prosecution.

“It really comes down to a trio of facts to call a judgment, which could be a judge or a jury,” Johnson said. “And would a judge let it go to a jury? I don’t think so. If I were a judge, I’d say, ‘Nice effort, and innovative, but that’s not worthy of the court system.’”

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