I am sure most of you are familiar with Nirvana’s classic album Nevermind, featuring such classics as Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come as You Are. The album cover was equally iconic, depicting a baby in a swimming pool, reaching for a dollar bill dangling in front of him on a fishing hook.
Well, that baby eventually grew up and is now suing the band for sexual exploitation. Spencer Elden alleges that this parents never signed a release authorising the use of his image on the album. He also claims that the photograph constitutes child pornography. Elden has issued legal proceedings in California and the papers state:
“The images exposed Spencer’s intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer’s genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day…”
Under US law, non-sexualised images of young children are typically not seen as child pornography. However, Elden’s lawyers allege that the fact that a dollar bill can also be seen in the photograph makes the baby seem “like a sex worker”. A bit of a stretch if you ask me.
Elden also alleges that Nirvana had promised to cover up his meat and two veg with a sticker but failed to do so. He is after damages of at least a cool $150k from each of the 15 Defendants, including Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain’s estate among others for the “extreme and permanent emotional distress”, “interference with his normal development and educational progress” and “medical and psychological treatment” which he claims to have had to endure as a result of the use of the photograph.
Elden apparently used to think differently, having previously been quoted as saying that the photograph has “always been a positive thing and opened doors” for him. Either way, now he has decided that is not the case and wants retribution. Nirvana have yet to respond but I will be keeping an eye on this one to see how it develops.
To what extent can “parody” be used as a defence to copyright infringement claims?
What is the issue? What constitutes ‘parody’? The preliminary ruling from the Brussels Court of Appeal sought clarification on ‘parody’ under Article 5(3)(k)-InfoSoc Directive. This allowed EU member states to…
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