Guns N Roses Leaker Escapes Appearance in Anti-Piracy PSA

After over a year of the Guns N Roses leak of several tracks from the then forthcoming album Chinese Democracy, the story of the person that leaked the tracks might finally come to a close. He has reportedly fulfilled is punishment for getting caught leaking pre-released material.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It was the case a case that seemingly was what the RIAA had hoped for. Someone who leaked pre-released material had been caught. He voluntarily handed over self-incriminating evidence. It was all too perfect because it seemed like an open and shut case for the RIAA.

When the story broke initially, the leakers liabilities were very high. At the time, he could be put in jail for 6 months and be liable for, according to the RIAA, $2.2 million in damages. The RIAA could make their headlines for cracking down on piracy, they had the leaker in an open and shut case, what could go wrong now?

Well, for those that followed the case, a whole lot went wrong for the RIAA. The RIAA offered a $30,000 settlement when the case went public, but the case ultimately went to court. One factor working against prosecutors was the fact that it took 14 years to produce this particular album. There was a plea bargain at one point that said that the fine would be dropped completely so long as he would participate in an anti-piracy ad.

In the end, he got 2 months house arrest and a year of probation. It was then that rights holders figured it would cost a fair amount of money to produce an anti-piracy public service announcement. Given that the RIAA was already seemingly throwing their money away on lawyers already spare cash might not be so easily on hand.

Now, according to Threat Level, the year probation is up and the court agreement is no longer binding. That means that the only thing he got was 2 months home confinement and 1 year probation for leaking 9 songs prior to its release date. Not too bad for someone who works as a web developer. He could easily just hone his web skills in those two months. What web developer wouldn’t mind two extra months learning a little bit more code?

“I knew as soon as this went down, nobody would give a shit about me doing a PSA,” Cogill said in a recent telephone interview.

The closest he came to providing a public service announcement was last August, in a video interview with Current TV. He said file sharers can get “f’d in the A” from the RIAA and get it “right in the butt.” The proposed court-ordered PSA was vaguely defined from the beginning, he said. “We had some conversations about it, hypothetical conversations,” Cogill said. “I said everybody is going to laugh at it.”

What was learned in all of this?

The best advice he got was from his Los Angeles lawyer, Kaloyanides. “He told me,” Cogill said, “‘to shut my fucking mouth and don’t say shit to the feds.’” But Kaloyanides was retained too late, after Cogill spilled the beans and handed over his laptop.

What is interesting in all of this is that this quiet news story is happening in the midst of the two big file-sharing legal news stories – the Tenenbaum and Thomas stories. Currently, there are fines set at a seemingly established amount of $2,250 per work. It’s unlikely that this case in particular sets the right message as far as the RIAA is concerned. You upload released work on Kazaa and get caught, then you face a $2,250 fine per work. You upload pre-released material on your blog, then its 2 months home confinement. Not exactly the headline grabbing anti-piracy message these rights holders are looking for.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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