The Los Angeles blogger who leaked new Chinese Democracy songs before their release was sentenced to two months of home confinement on Tuesday. Kevin Cogill also received one year’s probation and must appear in an anti-piracy commercial, expected to air during next year’s Grammys, under the terms of his plea deal. Cogill pleaded guilty last December to a single misdemeanor count of violating federal copyright laws and agreed to help authorities identify the original source of the leak, which has still yet to be identified.
Apparently, it could have been way, way worse for Cogill – he was facing a maximum punishment of $100,000 and one year in jail (!), not including a potential civil trial. Why so harsh? According to a Wired article last year, there’s a specific law for pre-release material, because leaking a record is viewed as extra evil than just regular piracy:
“There’s a specific law, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, that deals specifically with pre-release material — the rationale being that (leaking this material) prevents the owner of the copyright from getting the first release,” says entertainment lawyer Howard Rubin, a partner at Goetz & Fitzpatrick in New York. “The first release is always the one that’s going to get the most profit for the person who owns the copyright. To take that first opportunity from someone is more serious, and is usually pursued criminally to try to prevent that (from happening again).”
Luckily for Cogill, a lesser punishment was determined as U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams said there was no profit motive, the tracks were taken off the blog after a short period of time and his cooperation proved useful.
Honestly, shouldn’t he have been given a harsher punishment for being the first person to unleash that dreck on the world?