8000 files stolen
A British court sentenced two hackers to 100 hours of community service for stealing a treasure trove of Michael Jackson music from the US servers of Sony Music Entertainment.
James Marks, 27, and James McCormick, 26 scoured Sony’s servers for anything the “child-friendly” popular beat combo artist turned out. They downloaded nearly 8000 files, including completed or partial tracks, artwork, and videos relating to Jackson and other unspecified Sony artists. It is not clear what material they actually got, or if any of it saw the light of day on the internet. A statement from Britain's Serious and Organised Crime Agency identified some of the material as stems, which are audio tracks that can be used in mixes and overdubs.
Marks and McCormick were arrested in May 2011 after Sony alerted UK law enforcement to the breach. Chat logs recovered from their computers showed that they planned to sell or trade some of the files. If they had gotten away with it, Sony would have been gutted. It had a seven-year deal, worth up to $US250 million, to flog unreleased recordings by Jackson. The hope is that he can make more money now that he is dead and does not have the ability to waste it on theme parks and court cases.
Marks and McCormick initially pleaded their innocence in public, releasing a statement saying that they "would never do anything to harm the legacy that is Michael Jackson's music". But the pair later pleaded guilty to two counts of "unauthorised access to computer material" in September.
Their community service order was handed down at central England's Leicester Crown Court. If it were a US court they would have been crucified, but justice systems civilised tend to put things into perspective.