Nirvana Are Being Sued Over a Merch Design Inspired By Dante’s ‘Inferno’
Nirvana are being sued for copyright infringement for using an image on their merchandise that was designed by a British artist named C.W. Scott-Giles. The image was Scott-Giles' translation of Dante Alighieri's Inferno — the first section of his Divine Comedy poem.
Jocelyn Susan Bundy is the granddaughter of Scott-Giles, who illustrated a diagram of hell based on Inferno in 1949. The image depicts "upper hell," and features a set of circles with labels such as "Vestibule - the Futile," "Limbo - the Unbaptised and the Virtuous Pagans," "the Lustful," "the Gluttonous" and more.
As reported by Blabbermouth, Bundy sued Nirvana LLC on April 28, along with Live Nation Merchandise LLC and its Merch Traffic LLC unit and Silva Artist Management LLC. She claimed that Nirvana have been using her grandfather's illustration on their licensed merchandise without authorization since 1997, but that some of it actually dated back to 1989.
See an image of one of the Nirvana T-shirts that was sold by Hot Topic, that is sold out, below.
"On or about January 20, 2021, Plaintiff discovered that Defendants Nirvana and Live Nation Merchandise are (and have been) licensing, promoting, selling, manufacturing, and distributing vinyl records, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, key fobs, mugs, patches, buttons, and other merchandise items depicting an image virtually identical to the Illustration both in the U.S. and abroad," the suit reads.
"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."
The complaint further claimed that Nirvana implied that Kurt Cobain had actually drawn the illustration, or that the image was available to the public in the U.S., which would have allowed Nirvana to use it freely.
In December of 2018, Nirvana were doing the suing over T-shirts when they filed a suit against designed Marc Jacobs for using their iconic distorted smiley face logo. The tables have turned.
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