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Feds Demand Prison for Guns N' Roses Uploader

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Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are pursuing a 6-month prison term for a Los Angeles man who pleaded guilty in December to one misdemeanor count of uploading pre-release Guns N' Roses tracks, according to court documents.

Kevin Cogill was arrested last summer at gunpoint and charged with uploading nine tracks of the Chinese Democracy album to his music site — antiquiet.com. The album, which cost millions and took 17 years to complete, was released November 23 and reached No. 3 in the charts.

The sentence being sought — including the calculation of damages based on the illegal activity of as many as 1,310 websites that disseminated the music after Cogill released it — underscores how serious the government is about punishing those for uploading pre- release material.

“Making a pre-release work available to the worldwide public over the internet where it can be copied without limit is arguably one of the more insidious forms of copyright infringement," prosecutor Craig H. Missakian wrote in court documents. “That is because once released it is virtually impossible to prevent unlimited dissemination of the work." As part of the 28-year-old Cogill's guilty plea, he informed the authorities that he received the music online and unsolicited — a confession Missakian said might pave the way for more “targets" to be prosecuted.

“Needless to say, artists like the band Guns N' Roses put their blood, sweat, toil and tears into the creative process," Missakian said. “And this country has seen fit to protect their rights — and in doing so foster and encourage the creative process by which all of society benefits."

The government claimed the amount of infringement equaled $371,622. The higher the number the larger the potential prison term. The government said it produced a “reasonable estimate" and gave the defendant the “benefit of the doubt" in its calculations, which were based on each infringement being worth 99 cents on iTunes.

The Recording Industry Association of America, however, told the judge overseeing the case that the defendant's conduct resulted in more than a $2.2 million loss based on a “$6.39 legitimate wholesale value" for the nine tracks the RIAA claims (.pdf) were downloaded about 350,000 times.

Regardless of the phantom figures, the numbers floated by the government and the RIAA assume that the music would have been purchased had it not been downloaded for free. Here's how the feds concluded the $371,622 in damages:

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