Nirvana
Courtesy Nirvana

Spencer Elden, the man who was photographed as a baby on the album cover for Nirvana's Nevermind, is suing the band alleging sexual exploitation.

The cover depicts Elden as a four-month-old in a swimming pool, grasping for a dollar bill that's being dangled in front of him on a fishing line.

Now 30, Elden says his parents never signed a release authorising the use of his image on the album.

He also alleges the nude image constitutes child pornography.

"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," legal papers filed in California claim.

Non-sexualised photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography under US law.

However, Elden's lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, argues that the inclusion of the dollar bill (which was superimposed after the photograph was taken) makes the minor seem "like a sex worker".

The legal case also alleges that Nirvana had promised to cover Elden's genitals with a sticker, but the agreement was not upheld.

Elden alleges his "true 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".

He claims he "has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages" as a result of the artwork, including "extreme and permanent emotional distress" as well as "interference with his normal development and educational progress" and "medical and psychological treatment".

He is asking for damages of at least $150,000 (£109,000) from each of the 15 defendants, who include surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; the manager's of Kurt Cobain's estate; Cobain's former wife Courtney Love; and photographer Kirk Weddle.

Representatives for Nirvana and their record labels have yet to respond to the claims.

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