The legendary band fronted by the late Kurt Cobain has been slapped with a copyright infringement by C.W. Scott-Giles’ family over ‘Dante’s Inferno’ illustration.
- May 6, 2021
Nirvana is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over merchandise allegedly featuring a C.W. Scott-Giles illustration.
The lawsuit was filed by Jocelyn Susan Bundy, the granddaughter of Scott-Giles and “sole surviving relative and sole successor-in-title to the copyright in the works created by her late grandfather,” against Nirvana LLC, Live Nation Merchandise, Merch Traffic and Silva Artist Management.
According to the suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, Bundy discovered in January (21) that the band had been using an image described as “virtually identical” to her grandfather’s illustration of “Upper Hell” from a 1949 English translation of “Dante’s Inferno” on vinyl records, clothing, key fobs, mugs, patches, buttons, and other merchandise sold in the U.S. and around the world since 1989. It is recognised by fans as the “Seven Circles of Hell” or “Vestibule” design.
The suit also alleges that Nirvana has been making “false claims of ownership” of the image, and has implied that late frontman Kurt Cobain created the illustration. Bundy also accuses the band of claiming the use of the image is in the public domain in the U.S. – meaning that they can use it without the correct authorisation or paying a license fee. However, she argues that the image is protected under U.K. copyright law, and therefore shouldn’t be considered in the public domain in America or anywhere else.
“Any alleged good faith belief regarding any alleged public domain status of the Illustration (by Nirvana)… is refuted by Nirvana’s false claims of copyright ownership throughout the years and the world,” the legal papers state.
A cease and desist letter has also been sent to Nirvana and the other defendants, which they are accused of ignoring.
Bundy is demanding in the suit that production and distribution of any infringing merchandise be stopped. She’s also seeking damages relating to the sale of the image, and damages including any losses sustained by the alleged infringement.
The case is expected to go to trial later this year (21).