Hackers steal unreleased Michael Jackson songs from Sony

Last year, hackers stole tens of thousands of songs from Sony. Two men have been charged with illegally downloading Michael Jackson's entire 50,000-track back catalog, including unreleased songs.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor on

Hackers have stolen Michael Jackson's entire 50,000-track back catalogue from Sony. The attack on the Jackson files occurred shortly after the PSN hacks of last year but was not revealed until now. It was discovered during routine monitoring of social networks, Jackson fan sites, and hacking forums. The hack also compromised the work of other artists managed by the firm, including songs by Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Olly Murs, the Foo Fighters, and Avril Lavigne. There's no indication the songs are already circulating on the Internet, but if they're not already out there, it's likely only a matter of time.

"Everything Sony purchased from the Michael Jackson estate was compromised," a source told The Sunday Times. "It caused them to check their systems and they found the breach. There was a degree of sophistication. Sony identified the weakness and plugged the gap." Sony has confirmed the security breach and that the Michael Jackson material had been stolen, but refused to say how much the hackers downloaded.

On Friday, 26-year-old James Marks and 25-year-old James McCormick, who were arrested in May 2011, appeared in a U.K. court after being accused of offences in connection with the alleged security breach. The duo denied all charges under the Computer Misuse Act as well as the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act. They were released on bail, and are to stand trial in January 2013, according to The Guardian.

Jackson died in June 2009 at the age of 50. Before he did though, he recorded many unreleased songs with artists. In March 2010, Sony paid $395 million for the seven-year rights to the songs following his death, including permission to distribute previously unreleased tracks from "Thriller," "Bad" and "Off the Wall." That made it the biggest recording deal in history, and now it also means Sony was hit with the biggest cyberattack on a music company. The contract with Jackson's estate allowed Sony to release 10 new albums, including material from studio sessions produced during the making of some of the star's biggest albums.

Sony likely did not have to disclose the hack publicly as there was no customer data compromised. The Jackson estate, however, was undoubtedly contacted.

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