Good news, everyone: the album art for Nirvana’s seminal 1991 album Nevermind is officially not child porn. On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from Spencer Elden, the child depicted in the album art. Despite posing for multiple tribute photos, including on the album’s 25th anniversary in 2016, Elden argued that he became “increasingly uncomfortable” with the original photo over time, according to The New York Times. In his lawsuit, Elden accused Nirvana of “engaging in child pornography” and that the photograph had constituted “sexual exploitation.”
Judge Fernando M. Olguin ultimately ruled that because Elden learned of the photograph over ten years ago, he waited too long to file the lawsuit. In January, Elden’s lawyers missed a filing deadline, resulting in another dismissal. Parties named as defendants in the lawsuit included the estate of Kurt Cobain, former Nirvana band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, and Courtney Love. The defendant’s lawyer Bert H. Deixler told the Times in a statement that he was “pleased this meritless case has been brought to a swift conclusion.”
Elden was chosen for the photo over 30 years ago out of a lineup of babies; according to the New York Post, he was chosen because his father was friends with the photographer. Elden has paid tribute to the photo shoot a number of times over the years and has the album’s title tattooed across his chest.
As the Times notes, however, his opinion of the photo has apparently changed over the years; in 2016, he referred to the picture to GQ Australia as an “embarrassing naked photo” and said that he wasn’t receiving anything resembling royalties from the photo (he was paid $200 in 1991). “Everyone thinks you’re making money from it,” Elden continued. “You’ll hook up with a hot chick, and then they figure out you’re not making any money from it and they’ll dump you.”
Though it seems pretty inarguable that Elden deserves more than $200 for his contribution to music history, it looks like he’s going to need to find a different avenue to get it.