Everyone has seen the FBI Copyright Warning that flashes before the start of each DVD or Blu-Ray disc. The warning gets about as much attention as the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” tag on the mattress. That is, until yesterday. While the FBI Copyright Warning is mostly seen before a movie and is worded as to the reproduction the DVDs, U.S. Criminal Copyright penalties apply to all copyrights, including music. No one knows that better than U.S. blogger Kevin Cogill, who yesterday was sentenced on U.S. copyright infringement charges.
Kevin Cogill, 28, authors a music blog called Antiquiet. In August 2008, he was arrested by federal agents for posting 9 unreleased songs from unreleased Guns and Roses project, Chinese Democracy. Chinese Democracy was GnR’s first new album in 17 years and was eventually released in November of 2008. However, once the songs were leaked out on the internet, containment became difficult and they spread quickly resulting in widespread speculation and commentary on the anticipated release. Incidentally, Chinese Democracy did not sell as expected and sales were described as “sluggish“.
Last December Cogill plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of Copyright Infringement. Yesterday US District Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams sentenced Cogill to one year of probation. Cogill is also required to serve two months of home confinement, subject his computers to government scrutiny and record a public service announcement for the Recording Industry Association of America. Cogill has also apparently agreed to cooperate in finding the source of the leaked tracks.
The Guns and Roses pre-release internet leak was one of many last year, including tracks leaked on the U2 recording No Line on the Horizon. According to The Sun in the UK, Bono himself was the source of the leaked tracks as they could be heard (and recorded) by pedestrians as he blasted them from his beach house in the south of France.