Two computer hackers who netted a fortune by selling unreleased songs by artists including Lady GaGa, Rihanna and Mariah Carey were given custodial sentences on Thursday (16Jun11).
The German pair, identified only as Christian M. and Deniz A., used a Trojan horse computer virus to target record company laptops - including several owned by staff at Universal Music - and steal new tracks by leading international pop stars.
They then sold the unreleased songs online, netting a total of $42,500 (£26,300). Deniz A. even hacked into Ke$ha's personal computer and stole explicit photos of the TiK ToK hitmaker, which he later used to blackmail the singer.
The men confessed to 270 counts of violating copyrights and hacking confidential data at a court hearing in Duisburg, Germany on Thursday.
Deniz A., 18, was sentenced to 18 months at a young offenders' institution, and Christian M., 23, escaped with a suspended prison term of 18 months.
The court heard both men are "addicted" to computer hacking, and that Deniz A. had written a personal letter to Gaga after his arrest to apologise for leaking her tracks.
He wrote, "Dear Lady Gaga, I am ashamed of what I have done. I did not think about the consequences."
Other stars who fell victim to the scam include Shakira, Justin Timberlake, and Leona Lewis.