A blogger who admitted to leaking part of the Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" was sentenced to a year of probation.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams also ordered Kevin Cogill to serve two months of home confinement, subject his computers to government scrutiny and record a public service announcement for the RIAA.
Cogill pleaded guilty earlier this year to one misdemeanor count of copyright infringement for posting nine tracks from the long-awaited Guns 'N Roses album last year. Cogill apologized for his actions in court Tuesday and said he didn't mean any harm by posting the tracks online.
"I never intended to hurt the artist," Cogill told Abrams. "I intended to promote the artist because I'm a fan." Abrams noted that Cogill is an artist, and should have known better.
A federal prosecutor pushed for a short prison term to act as a deterrent to others. "This is the type of case where I believe the court needs to send a strong message," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Missakian. Too many people think of posting copyrighted work online as a "victimless crime," he said.
Cogill's attorney argued against a prison term, saying his client realized his wrongdoing and had suffered serious repercussions already. "He did lose his job as a result of this case," defense attorney David Kaloyanides said.
Missakian said after the hearing that while prosecutors hoped Cogill would be incarcerated, the case should serve as a warning to others that the government takes copyright infringement violations seriously. Abrams said he thought Cogill had learned his lesson, and did not think he would repeat his mistake.
As part of his plea deal, Cogill will have to allow authorities to search or seize his computers. He will not have to pay any fines or restitution, although authorities at one point calculated the losses from his actions at more than $371,000.
Kaloyanides said after the hearing that arriving at any damage amount was difficult and that sending Cogill to prison could have created a backlash. "It doesn't help to educate the public of the importance of respecting copyright law when you become too heavy-handed with punishment," Kaloyanides said.
Cogill will have some input into the public service announcement he records for the RIAA, which has used lawsuits to pursue people it suspects of illegally downloading music. Kaloyanides said he hoped the ads would target fans who upload and download copyrighted works by explaining to them that they're really hurting their favorite bands.
"You need to reach the fans," he said. "He (Cogill) speaks their language."
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