Hackers Behind Theft Of Michael Jackson Songs Sentenced
January 14, 2013

Sony Hackers Plead Guilty, Given Suspended Sentence

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A pair of UK men who confessed to hacking Sony Music and stealing thousands of songs — including previously unreleased tracks recorded by the late Michael Jackson — will not be sent to prison for their crimes.

According to BBC Newsbeat reporter Jim Taylor, 27-year-old Daventry native James Marks and 26-year-old Blackpool resident James McCormick pleaded guilty to computer misuse. They were given a suspended sentence and were each ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

The hacking and theft, which occurred in 2011 but was only confirmed by Sony in March 2012, saw Marks and McCormick download as many as 7,000 files, including songs recorded by Beyonce, Elvis Presley, and Brittany Spears, the BBC and The Telegraph reported late last week.

“These men stole thousands of copyrighted files belonging to Sony Music,” Mick Jameson of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) Cyber Department, told The Telegraph. "Our remit is to protect businesses as well the public, and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement and industry partners to tackle online criminality."

Both men were described by Gregor McGill, head of organized crime at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as “huge enthusiasts of Michael Jackson,” which is why they chose Sony — the exclusive license holder to the late pop star´s library of music.

“At the time of his death, there existed recorded but unreleased Michael Jackson music which aroused the attention of Marks and McCormick,” McGill said. “It was the prosecution's case that these men were fully aware that the files they obtained on their computers were subject to copyright and that they took steps to sell on and to share the music with a wider audience in internet forums“¦ In simple terms, these men broke into a computer system and took music files that were not theirs to take. That was criminal activity.”

Jackson died in 2009 at the age of 50, and the following year the rights to his remaining, previously recorded songs were purchased by Sony Music for the sum of $250 million, the BBC reported. That deal lasts through the year 2017 and covers a series of duets with the likes of will.i.am and the late Freddy Mercury.

“The pair claimed they only wanted to gather evidence that some Jackson material released after his death didn't actually feature the singer's voice,” Taylor said. “Speaking outside court, James Marks said he was sorry for downloading the files but was still determined to prove Michael Jackson didn't sing on some tracks on 'Michael'.”