Don't Cry Blogger: Pirated GNR Tunes Lead to TV Role

A Culver City blogger who leaked songs on the Internet from a then-unreleased Guns N' Roses album was sentenced to probation and home detention and ordered to appear in an anti-piracy spot for a recording industry trade group.

Kevin Cogill, who used the online name "Skwerl," pleaded guilty last December to a single misdemeanor count of violating federal copyright laws, admitting to U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams that he posted nine tracks from "Chinese Democracy" on the Internet blog Antiquiet in June 2008, five months before the album was officially released.

As part of his Dec. 10 plea agreement, Cogill agreed to cooperate with the government in any investigation of the case.

Along with his sentence of one year of probation and two months of home confinement, Cogill will help shoot a public-service announcement for the Recording Industry Association of America, warning others about the legal ramifications of music piracy, Abrams said Tuesday.

The warning is expected to run on television during the Grammy Awards ceremony early next year.

Cogill had faced a maximum of one year in federal prison, a $100,000 fine and five years probation but received the lesser sentence because there was no profit motive, the length of time the illegal material was on the blog was short and his cooperation proved useful, Abrams said.

Explaining home confinement, Abrams told Cogill, "you're not free to run down the block for a quart of milk" unless a probation officer approves.

Abrams, who also waived any fines, further ordered that Cogill's home computers be subject to monitoring during the probationary period.

Cogill had no comment after the hearing.

At his plea hearing, Cogill, then 28, said he had "got my hands on pre-release versions of Guns N' Roses songs -- something my audience was heavily anticipating."

Asked if he uploaded the material onto his website for financial gain, Cogill said he hadn't, "but I understand all the attention helped me."

According to an affidavit, Cogill's arrest last Aug. 27 came after an investigator for the music industry trade group told the FBI that a blogger using the name "Skwerl" had uploaded nine previously unreleased GNR tracks to the Internet. Officials said Cogill's website received so many hits after the songs were posted that it crashed.

At 17 years in the making, "Chinese Democracy" arrived in stores Nov. 23 and peaked at No. 3 before dropping off the charts in the ensuing weeks.

"We hope people will take from this that the government is listening, and we take these kinds of violations seriously," Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig H. Missakian said outside the courtroom.

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