Last year, music blogger Kevin “Skwerl” Cogill got into a bit of hot water when he posted tracks from the then-still-unreleased [artist id="846"]Guns N’ Roses[/artist] album [news id="1604492"]Chinese Democracy[/news] on the music blog Antiquiet. What followed was a stranger-than-fiction story: The FBI stormed his home early in the morning, arrested him at gunpoint and put him on trial for piracy. On Tuesday (July 14), the legal fiasco finally ended. Though Cogill could have received as much as a year in jail and nearly $400,000 in fines, he was given a year of probation. As part of his sentence, he also must assist the RIAA in producing a PSA about piracy.
The details of his probation (which includes two months of home confinement) still need to be ironed out, though he’ll still have computer access. “They made it clear that the court did not want to hinder my ability to earn a living as a Web developer or to continue running Antiquiet,” Cogill told MTV News via e-mail.
Cogill carries a great deal of remorse for what he did, though he never intended any harm to Axl Rose — he was just a fan who was excited about a band he loved. “I’ve come to respect the artists’ right to determine how their art is released. I do apologize to Axl for that disrespect,” he said. “As a fan who had lost faith in all of the promises of release, I didn’t see too many other options at the time. But in a fair world, it’s not my place to judge, let alone act.”
Though Cogill says he was unaware of any comments that Rose might have made about him, he did take some quotes by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash pretty personally. “A friend of mine conducted an interview with Slash last year in which he called me a thief and wished that I ‘rot in jail,’ ” he said. “I found that surprisingly crass, especially considering the guy has made no bones about shoplifting cassette tapes with the same rationale as today’s downloaders. So if he wants to see me in jail, I’ll see him in the cafeteria.”
Ironically, it was Cogill’s leak that might have ultimately led to the release of Chinese Democracy last fall, as the announcements about the album’s release started to appear shortly after.