The heir of a British artist who drew a map of hell for a translation of Dante’s Inferno has sued Nirvana in the Los Angeles federal court for copyright infringement.
The complainant, Jocely Bundy, alleges Nirvana misused the image on its merchandise and said that she discovered in January that the band had been using the image since 1997.
Reuters reported that the drawing, by Bundy’s grandfather CW Scott-Giles, had appeared on shirts, mugs, vinyl records, and other merchandise sold at stores like Walmart, H&M, and Hot Topic.
The drawing depicts Dante’s circles of Upper Hell, which appear in the first part of the medieval poet’s Divine Comedy, one of the seminal works of European literature and poetry.
It comes as Nirvana fights another legal stoush with Marc Jacobs over who owns the rights to the iconic “smiley face” that has adorned the band’s t-shirts and merchandise for the past quarter of a century.
At the time, Nirvana said the design “threatened to dilute the value of Nirvana’s licenses with its licensees for clothing products”. For its part, Marc Jacobs counter-sued arguing the smiley face—part of its ‘Redux Grunge Collection’—was a “commonplace image”.
That case hit a snag after graphic designer Robert Fisher, who designed several Nirvana record covers, claimed he designed the album cover (not Kurt Cobain) and was the rightful copyright holder.
Similarly, Bundy alleged that previous copyright actions by Nirvana had wrongfully claimed Cobain created the illustration or that it was in the public domain, via Blabbermout.
Featured image source: eBay
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