|By David Kravets
A Los Angeles man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of uploading pre-release Guns N’ Roses tracks was handed one year probation and two months’ home confinement Tuesday after agreeing to cooperate with the Recording Industry Association of America to produce an anti-piracy message.
Kevin Cogill was arrested last summer at gunpoint and charged with uploading nine tracks of the Chinese Democracy album to his music site — antiquiet.com. The album, which cost millions and took 17 years to complete, was released in November and reached No. 3 in the charts.
Cogill faced a maximum of a year in prison. The authorities, however, originally were demanding six months, claiming the amount of infringement equaled $371,000. The higher the number, the longer the potential prison term.
According to court documents, after Cogill agreed to help produce an anti-piracy public service address with the RIAA, the government withdrew the $371,000 figure and agreed not to fine him. Los Angeles federal authorities in March said the figure was a “reasonable estimate” that gave the defendant the “benefit of the doubt.” The calculations, the government said, were based on each downloaded Guns N’ Roses track being worth 99 cents on iTunes.
As part of the 28-year-old Cogill’s guilty plea in December, he informed the authorities that he received the music online and unsolicited — a confession prosecutors said might pave the way for more “targets” to be prosecuted.
Cogill uploaded nine songs from the 14-track album on June 18, 2008. Court records show he confessed to the FBI. The case was cracked by an investigator with the RIAA.
In March, the RIAA said it believed the infringement amounted to $2.2 million. (.pdf) The record labels said it would accept $30,000, instead of $2.2 million, if Cogill “was willing to participate in a public service announcement designed to educate the public that music piracy is illegal.”
Prosecutor Kevin Missakian said in a telephone interview that the public address will either be a radio or television message of “Kevin talking about the importance of protecting copyright holders’ rights in their songs and movies.”
Missakian added that the government was “satisfied” with the sentence, but “the government had asked for some jail time in hopes of sending a stronger message.”