In late August, one Spencer Elden, the individual who appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991) as a baby, filed a shocking child pornography lawsuit against the surviving members of the band. Now, the unexpected complaint has taken a strange twist with the entry of an alleged “intervenor defendant” who purportedly possesses physical and digital editions of Nevermind – and, in turn, the cover photo at the center of the case.
In the lawsuit’s original filing, Spencer Elden said that the above-mentioned defendants – as well as Universal Music, the involved photog, Geffen Records, and Courtney Love, to name some – had “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography” with the album cover that he had posed for as a baby, “and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so.”
“The permanent harm he [Elden] has proximately suffered includes but is not limited to extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity,” and more, continues the firmly worded action, in which the plaintiff is demanding “all profits and unjust enrichment” from the 30-year-old album at hand.
As initially mentioned, an odd twist has arrived in the high-stakes courtroom confrontation, in the form of a motion to intervene as a defendant from an individual named Timothy Fredrickson.
The Legal Information Institute describes “intervene” as the entry of “a third party into an existing civil case who was not named as an original party but has a personal stake in the outcome.” This intervening party “is called an intervenor” and can join the side of the defendant, the plaintiff, “or as adverse to both the plaintiff and defendant.”
It must also be highlighted here that a Davenport, Iowa, man by the name of Timothy Fredrickson was previously found “guilty of sexual exploitation of a child,” according to the Quad-City Times, with the jury having taken less than half an hour to deliver its verdict. Other resources show that this person had unsuccessfully appealed his sentence, and the return address on Fredrickson’s motion in the Nirvana case – P.O. Box 9000 in Seagoville, Texas – traces back to FCI Seagoville.
Bearing these points in mind, Fredrickson notes off the bat that he bought a copy of Nevermind “in the early 2000s while in high school, and still owns it today.” He then “ripped” the CD’s tracks into MP3 files using Windows Media Player, the text proceeds, “which automatically downloaded” the album’s cover art and “digitally embedded it in each of the MP3 files as an ID3 tag.”
As a result, “Fredrickson possesses but does not want to possess, [sic] multiple copies of the Elden image,” the convoluted document continues, and has subsequently seen the photo while listening to Nevermind on the iPod, Spotify, and YouTube. Furthermore, the intervenor says that he “made his own mix CD” – including Nevermind songs – “and while road tripping in various cars, it’s [sic] infotainment system read the ID3 tags and displayed the Elden image.”
Finally, in terms of the circumstances surrounding Fredrickson’s intervention, he allegedly “does not have access to an ID3 tag editor to delete the image” and “is not a resident of California [where the suit against Nirvana was filed] and intends to go on a trip to, and vacation in, Los Angeles while listening to Nirvana.”
Expanding upon these ideas, Fredrickson alleges to have “a property interest at stake” because “an adverse ruling” would prompt him “to attempt to destroy all copies of the album and its derivatives in his possession.” His other purported interests in the action include whether he “has a right to travel interstate ( go Road Tripping) [sic] while listening to this particular CD with the cover intact and the image emblazoned on it,” the text reads.
“The named defendants’ defense may inadequately protect the interests of Nirvana fans as end-users like Fredrickson, by focusing their defense on the act of production or shifting the liability onto one producer –to [sic] the exclusion of a defense that would protect possessors of the album.”
In a “notice of document discrepancies” regarding Fredrickson’s filing, the court checked two boxes – “written notice of motion lacking or timeliness of notice incorrect” and “lacking name, address, phone, facsimile numbers, and e-mail address.” Consequently, an order from the presiding judge (dated November 1st) “rejected” the document.
But if history is any indication, pro se filing parties can be persistent in the face of rejection, and similar motions could surface in the future. Moreover, this latest twist in the child pornography lawsuit against Nirvana follows the dismissal of a merch-focused copyright infringement complaint involving the band. Lastly, Dave Grohl acknowledged in October that Nirvana may change the Nevermind cover after all, over three decades following the work’s release.