Nirvana is being sued over their use of a piece of Dante’s Inferno artwork on various items of their merchandise line and on vinyl releases.
Per Reuters and Blabbermouth, Jocelyn Bundy, the granddaughter of artist C.W. Scott-Giles, is suing Nirvana LLC, Live Nation Merchandise LLC, Merch Traffic LLC and Silva Artist Management LLC in Los Angeles federal court accusing them of copyright infringement. Bundy said she discovered the band was using the Dante’s Inferno artwork depicting Dante’s circle of hell in January.
Bundy’s complaint states, “Further research revealed that some of the unauthorized uses of the Illustration on Nirvana-branded merchandise date as far back as 1989. Further research also revealed that over the years, the band Nirvana and parties acting on its behalf have routinely made false claims of ownership of the copyright in the Illustration by placing false copyright notices on the Infringing Products in substantially this form ‘© [Year] Nirvana’.”
Bundy’s complaint also states, “Finally, in documents filed in two other copyright actions before this Court, Defendant Nirvana has implied that Kurt Cobain created the Illustration or, in the alternative, that the Illustration is in the public domain in the United States, and that, therefore, Nirvana and its licensees are free to use it without authorization or compensation. Nirvana and some of the other Defendants have maintained this position in their responses to Plaintiff’s continuing requests to cease their wrongful conduct in the U.S. and abroad.”
This is the latest lawsuit pertaining to Nirvana and merchandising logos. The band's LLC has been involved in an ongoing lawsuit that began in December 2018 against fashion designer Marc Jacobs alleging unauthorized use of the Nirvana happy face logo in Jacobs’ “Redux Grunge Collection.” In September 2020, California-based graphic artist Robert Fisher filed a motion claiming he actually created Nirvana’s smiley face logo and is the owner of the copyright design.