Spencer Elden, who’s pictured as a baby on the sleeve, had tried to sue the band, photographer Kirk Weddle and several record labels, accusing them of “child pornography” since he’s naked in the image. His suit was previously rejected in January, with procedure offering him one last chance to reapply.
But U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin issued an eight-page ruling, rejecting Spencer’s attempt to present his complaint for a fourth time. The judge ruled that the case was subject to a 10-year statute of limitations, which had expired, and therefore “the court concludes that his claim is untimely.” He added: “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.”
A legal representative for Nirvana told Reuters: “We are pleased that this meritless case has been brought to a speedy final conclusion.” However, Elden’s lawyer Margaret Mabie told Rolling Stone he intended to appeal. “This ruling’s interpretation … contravenes over 15 years of well-settled precedent and the legislature’s intended purpose of the law,” she said. “The Nevermind cover was created at time when Spencer was a baby and it is impossible for him to age out of this victimization while his image remains in distribution.”
A criminal defense attorney had previously told Rolling Stone that be believed the case would be dismissed, saying that in order for the image to be ruled “pornography,” “It has to appeal to the viewer’s prurient interest. What’s going to be at issue here is whether this album cover incites the lustful interest, sexual stimulation, or gratification of the viewer. And I think it’s pretty clear that’s not the purpose.”
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