Michael Jackson songs stolen by hackers

Remember last year when the hacker group Lulz Security nabbed credit card data and other personal information from Sony PlayStation Network? Around the same time, two British hackers lifted unreleased songs by Michael Jackson from the Sony Music Entertainment computer system. The two hackers are so far found to be unrelated. Nevertheless, tough year for Sony, apparently.

Though the news of last year's music-related hack strangely only went public this week, Billboard confirmed yesterday that the hackers stole 50,000 music files from Jackson's back and unreleased catalogs. Somewhere in that collection includes unreleased collaborations with Freddie Mercury and will.i.am, though will.i.am had also worked with Jackson on the Thriller 25 anniversary reissue.

The loss of this valued part of Jackson's estate, his unreleased recordings, which are owned by Sony as part of a seven-year agreement for a guaranteed $200 million -- with the potential to become $250 million -- marks one of the biggest thefts in the digital music era. However, no information has been released as to how the hackers were able to access Sony's systems in the first place. Should the two hackers so choose to leak the material online, Sony, along with Jackson's estate, would lose millions of dollars in potential sales for this coveted material.

Although Sony Music Entertainment manages songs by Chris Brown, Foo Fighters and Avril Lavigne, only Jackson's tracks were lifted. According to The Guardian, the hackers, James Marks, 26, and James McCormick, 25, pled not guilty on Friday to the charges established by the UK's Computer Misuse Act, which essentially combats cybercrime, and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, which regards copyright, terms and qualifications. Marks and McCormick will face trial in January 2013.

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