Michael Jackson Sony back catalog stolen by hackers

Michael Jackson This is It album cover Sony

Sony
(CBS News) Two men in the U.K. have allegedly been arrested for illegally downloading 50,000 tracks from Sony's collection of Michael Jackson's back catalog, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the BBC, 26-year-old James Marks and 25-year-old James McCormick are the alleged offenders and were arrested last May. The two have reportedly been released on bail, with a trial scheduled for Jan. 2013. There's no indication that the men are associated with the hacking group Anonymous or LulzSec.

Jackson's entire back catalog was compromised, the latest report says. Sony purchased the rights from the Jackson estate in 2010 for $200 million to complete 10 projects over seven years, Billboard reported. The deal included permission to distribute previously unreleased tracks from "Thriller," "Bad" and "Off the Wall."

While the suspects have been apprehended, the damage may have already been done. If the files reach cyberspace, it will likely cheat the Jackson estate from the opportunity to release the rare tracks on their own terms. There's no information on whether or not any other Sony artists' catalogs were compromised. If so, the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen and the Foo Fighters may also be victims of the transgression.

The actual crime happened last April when the Sony PlayStation Network was hack and shut down for 23 days due to hackers breaching the company's servers. Personal data from about 77 million customers were compromised in the cyber attack, including names, home addresses, birthdays, usernames and passwords. Sony apologized to customers and offered free identity theft protection services.

Hacking group LulzSec took creditfor the security breach. In the following months, Sony Music Japan, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Ericsson's online store and Sony Computer Entertainment Developer Network were all hacked.

According to CNET, there's no indication that Jackson's songs have circulated on the Internet yet.

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