Digital Legal Top Stories

Unreleased Jackson material taken during hack attack on Sony servers

By | Published on Monday 5 March 2012

Sony Music

Hackers downloaded over 50,000 music files from a private server owned by Sony Music last year, it has been claimed. Amongst the downloaded content were numerous unreleased tracks, many from the oeuvre of Michael Jackson, which the major scored the right to monetise via a multi-million dollar deal with the late king of pop’s estate in 2010.

The mega-hack occurred last spring, and two British men were arrested in connection with the incident last May, but the whole thing has come to light now because the suspects appeared in court to face charges under the Computer Misuse Act and Copyright, Designs And Patents Act last week. James Marks and James McCormick both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Sony seemingly discovered the hack had occurred during routine monitoring of social networks, hacking communities and Jackson fan sites last spring, and subsequently identified how the breach of their server had occurred. Having linked the data breach to a British source, the UK Serious Organised Crime division took up the case.

The Sony music files hack came just weeks after the personal data of millions of users of the Sony gaming and content-on-demand networks was grabbed by hackers, forcing both offline while security measures were reviewed. It seems affected artists, including the Michael Jackson estate, were informed about this second major data grab, though no public statement was made because no customer information was taken.

A source at the music major told The Sun this weekend: “Everything Sony purchased from the Michael Jackson estate was compromised. 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 Music has confirmed that its servers were compromised just under a year ago, but has refused to comment on just how many tracks were taken, or which artists were affected.