A computer hacker has been handed a suspended prison sentence for attempting to steal unreleased songs by Michael Jackson from music giant Sony.
James Marks, aged 27, of Anson Close, Daventry, was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court to six months, suspended for one year, and 100 hours community work, having each pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorised access to computer material.
He was sentenced along with James McCormick, aged 26, from Blackpool.
Leicester Crown Court heard Marks and McCormick accessed around 7,000 files in 2011, but the hack was only confirmed by the record company last March.
The court heard there was a security flaw in the system used by Sony Music to share music with people outside the firm.
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.
Sony Music has always denied that vocals on some tracks on the posthumous album ‘Michael’ were done by another singer
Gregor McGill, head of organised crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “They hacked the servers of one of the world’s largest recorded music companies from their home computers in Daventry and Blackpool respectively. Both huge enthusiasts of Michael Jackson, they targeted Sony Music which has the exclusive license to the late musician’s catalogue.
“At the time of his death, there existed recorded but unreleased Michael Jackson music which aroused the attention of Marks and McCormick.
“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.”