Two men, who hacked Sony Entertainment's servers and downloaded thousands of songs, including some unreleased material from Michael Jackson, have escaped jail time today (Jan 12) after a court hearing in Leicester, UK.
The two men, James McCormick, 26, and James Marks, 27, met online before eventually collaborating together to break into Sony's vast musical database and helping themselves to the spoils, which also included Elvis Presley and Beyoncé as well as MJ. They were arrested in May 2011, after Sony identified the security breach, but not before helping themselves to over 7000 songs, as well as artwork and videos. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) said that the two had also conspired to sell the files on after they had been stolen, after chat-logs recovered from the pair's computers offered some rather incriminating evidence for the prosecutors to consider.
The pair first appeared in court in September last year, pleading guilty to computer misuse offences. They now face a suspended 6 month sentence each, reduced from a year, as well as 100 hours of community service. Mick Jameison, from SOCA's Cyber Department, said to press shortly after the sentencing, "These men stole thousands of copyrighted files belonging to Sony Music. 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."
Gregor McGill, head of organised crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, went on to add: "In simple terms, these men broke into a computer system and took music files that were not theirs to take. That was criminal activity."