Two UK men who hacked into Sony Music’s confidential databases and stole unreleased material by the late Michael Jackson have been given suspended jail sentences and ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
BBC reports that 27-year-old James Marks and 26-year-old James McCormick pleaded guilty to computer misuse offences. They were sentenced to six months in prison suspended for a year, along with the community service period.
The sentencing followed the duo’s arrest in May 2011 for hacking their way into Sony’s databases and downloading up to 7,000 files, including music by the likes of Jackson, Beyonce and Elvis Presley. The duo were also investigated by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, who claimed to have uncovered chatlogs from their computers, which showed that they had intended to sell the files.
“These men stole thousands of copyrighted files belonging to Sony Music,” SOCA Spokesperson Mick Jameison said.
“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.”
Marks and McCormick claimed that they only hacked the databases to gather evidence that some of the posthumous material released by Jackson didn’t feature the singer’s voice. Rumours circulated last year that some of the vocals that appeared on Jackson’s posthumous 2010 album Michael were from another singer – rumours that Sony have strongly denied.