Last week’s leak of nine songs purporting to be from Guns N’ Roses’ eternally delayed Chinese Democracy had a whole mess of repercussions, but perhaps none of them were as unnerving for the proprietor of leak source Antiquiet.com as the visitors his office had yesterday–who happened to be from the FBI. (They even looked like Mulder and Scully! Talk about verisimilitude!) “It was kind of an ambush,” Antiquiet proprietor and ex-Universal Music Group employee Skwerl told Rolling Stone. “When I came back from lunch they were waiting in the lobby for me.” The three chatted for 15 minutes, then made plans to regroup back at Skwel’s place at 7 the next morning.
“I wasn’t sure if they were going to come by with a warrant and trash the place, like in the movies,” he says. “It was nothing like that.” The FBI officials wanted to see the original files, but Skwerl erased them last week per instructions from Axl Rose’s attorneys. Skwerl ultimately gave them second-hand files that are now widely available on the Internet.
Last week Skwerl’s blog crashed from the traffic flood that resulted from his controversial posting. “My host contacts me and says, ‘What the fuck did you do?’” I go, “Uhhhh. I posted some music.” He goes, “What exactly did you post?” I go, “Uhhhh. [Meek voice] New Guns n’ Roses.” He goes, “Motherfucker.” Before long his cell phone rang with an unfamiliar 323 number. “It was a really cool guy from the Gn’R camp that was a middle man between someone who was very angry and me. He was trying to reach out and see if I’d go without a fight, which is more or less what I did.”
Skwerl agreed to take them down, but a cease-and-desist letter soon followed threatening possible legal action. “I’m not so worried about that,” Skwerl says. “It’s a legal grey area since it wasn’t for download, it wasn’t a finished product. We aren’t sure who owns the recordings. I feel like I might survive this.”
While I wish him–and the “anonymous online source” who leaked him the tracks–luck, I also hope that musicFIRST doesn’t get wind of this guys’ comments about the legality of streaming vs. downloading. Otherwise, he might be getting a lot of “funny” presents in the mail pretty soon.
UPDATE: Skwerl writes in: “Andy Greene at Rolling Stone took me a bit out of context. I told him that I was cooperating completely with the Feds, and that I was 100% ready and willing to face any legal repercussions my actions deserved. I suppose that wasn’t a good enough story. He asked if I was freaked out, and that’s where the closing quote come from. I said it ‘may’ be a legal gray area, not that it is. I admit that I don’t know the law thoroughly, and have ruled nothing out at this point.”