Commandment number 11: Thou shalt not upset Axl Rose.
Kevin Cogill, a blogger from Los Angeles, was arrested by U.S. federal officials yesterday after he leaked tracks from the upcoming Guns N’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” on his Web site. The “new” album, which the band has been working on for 14 years, is finally scheduled for a release later this year.
Fourteen years of waiting was apparently too much for Cogill, who taunted the band on his Web site under this screen name “Skwerl” before posting nine of their songs. Despite having earned their fame writing songs about “wild living, violence, drugs and girls,” as AFP so eloquently puts it, the band immediately got the law on their side and filed a cease-and-desist order against Cogill. After the rush of traffic to hear the songs crashed his Web site, and then upon hearing from the FBI, Cogill took down the songs. Still, he could face a maximum of five years in prison.
Wired reports that it’s unlikely that Cogill would face such a stiff sentence; the feds don’t seem to be pursuing him with a high level of interest. In fact, the worst fate that might befall him would be if Guns N’ Roses filed civil action. Then, even if Cogill could prove that the buzz he created actually helped the band sell more albums in the long run, he could owe more than $1 million for releasing the material “with intent or malice.”
This bit of music piracy news comes after a bizarre case earlier in August, when U2 frontman Bono played the band’s new tracks too loudly in his French mansion, and a passer-by recorded them on a cellphone and uploaded them to YouTube. There’s no word yet whether U2 and its representatives have tried to get the stolen songs taken down. But don’t be fooled—the music industry is apparently still willing to do whatever possible to fight off its own decline, whether it’s RIAA lawsuits against college kids, arresting bloggers, or circulating ridiculous propaganda.