Remember this summer when people were still eagerly anticipating Guns n’ Roses’ long-gestating album Chinese Democracy and LA blogger Kevin Cogill leaked nine tracks from the disc? Now, even though Cogill’s fully cooperated with the RIAA and the FBI, who are bizarrely involved in this case, and took down the tracks immediately after he was contacted by Guns n’ Roses’ reps, he’s facing up to six months in prison.
Cogill was able to get the copyright violation against him dropped from a felony to a misdemeanour after he admitted to streaming the tracks. But it seems clear, based on statements from FBI and RIAA representatives in court documents obtained by the UK’s The Register, that they’re looking to make an example out of their cooperating criminal:
“Making a pre-release work available to the worldwide public over the internet where it can be copied without limit is arguably one of the more insidious forms of copyright infringement,” wrote prosecutor Craig Missakian.
“That is because once released it is virtually impossible to prevent unlimited dissemination of the work.”…
“The defendant’s conduct here was even more egregious and harmful than the typical music piracy case, since the music he unlawfully distributed had not yet been released to the public,” wrote RIAA anti-piracy veep L Carlos Linares on 10 March.
“The unlawful distribution of pre-release sound recordings causes irreparable harm to a record label’s marketing plan – typically developed with great care and at significant cost – by utterly eliminating the label’s ability to control the public presentation of the artist’s work,” he opined.
The type of copyright infringement the RIAA described above happens every day, but it doesn’t seem like Cogill’s a particularly egregious offender. (He quickly took down the tracks after GNR’s management asked him to do so.) Cogill just has the misfortune of being a copyright infringer the RIAA could capture and make an example out of, with the FBI’s help. Meanwhile, more frequent offenders are leaking upcoming albums all the time and the RIAA’s not trying to throw them in jail.
Cogill is set to be sentenced on May 4.
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