The Dangers of Leaking Music: 5 Cautionary Tales

A blogger just got sentenced for unleashing a Guns N Roses album, but he's not the first leaker person to get in trouble.

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Complex Original

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Last December, blogger Kevin Cogill pled guilty to violating federal copyright laws after he was busted for posting nine songs from Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy album on the Internet. Yesterday, Cogill was sentenced to two months of home confinement, one year of probation, and he's required to appear in an anti-piracy PSA.

While house arrest might seem like a dream come true for a blogger, in reality, this is the stiffest punishment anyone has ever received for leaking music (not to be confused with downloading music, which the R.I.A.A. loves to punish). But that's not to say there haven't been consequences for being the first to put unreleased music out there. So before you publish that next blog post with an exclusive track, check out these 5 Notable Consequences For Leaking Music, and realize that what you gain in hits might cost you elsewhere...


LEAKER: Radio stations KBBT in L.A., KMEL in San Francisco, WUSL and WIOQ in Philadelphia
WHAT THEY LEAKED: Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson's single "Scream"
• The radio stations were playing "Scream" on the hour almost two weeks before its official release. They were eventually served cease-and-desist orders and faced legal action, but one station's program director made it clear that "on a release as big as Michael Jackson's, there's no way we're going to wait if we receive a leak." Ballsy.


LEAKER: Intern Adam of Nashville's 107.5 The River
WHAT THEY LEAKED: Britney Spears' single "Womanizer"
• The radio personality recorded and posted a 40-second preview of the song that Jive played for the station during a conference call. He was promptly fired and slapped with a $250,000 fine. FIRST! FAIL!


LEAKER: Unidentified music journalist
WHAT THEY LEAKED: Three songs from Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam album
• When the first batch of records from the album leaked, watermarking technology allowed Domino Records to trace the files back to the leaker immediately. AC's publicist wrote a threatening letter to other journalists, letting them know that the person responsible "got in more trouble than you care to hear about and was almost fired." We're not sure if the scare tactics worked, or not.


LEAKER: English retail worker
WHAT THEY LEAKED: Mastodon's Blood Mountain album
• The underground metal band's record label traced the leak back to a retail employee and had him fired. Mastodon was "not concerned with record sales," but was more upset that "such a shitty copy" was leaked.


LEAKER: DJ Chuck T & DJ Empire
WHAT THEY LEAKED: Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter III album
• In the years leading up to Wayne's album release, DJ Empire released a steady stream of mixtapes featuring exclusive songs from Tha Carter III sessions. Despite the fact that all these songs were given directly to Empire by someone within Wayne's inner-circle, Weezy finally snapped, going off on a bizarre, "fuck mixtape DJs" tirade in an interview that left some spinners in the community pissed off. DJ Chuck T retaliated by leaking the final version of TC3. The leak turned out to not hurt Wayne's sales at all, and the martian moved more than A-Milli the first week. We're guessing Chuck T was probably taken off Universal's promo mailing list.

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