Hackers swipe unreleased Jackson tracks from Sony

Two British men have appeared in court charged with hacking into Sony Music to steal the entire Michael Jackson back catalog.

James Marks, 26, from Daventry and James McCormick, 25, from Blackpool, appeared in Leicester Crown Court on Friday, where they were accused of crimes under the Computer Misuse Act and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

The two men are believed to have lifted more than 50,000 tracks from Sony, which bought the rights to Jackson’s back catalog for $250 million in 2010, nine months after the singer’s death from a drugs overdose.

Included in the deal were rights to previously unreleased songs, reported to include duets with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and Freddie Mercury, the late former lead singer of Queen. Other material included unreleased material from Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad studio sessions.

According to the BBC, the stolen files may also include songs by Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, the Foo Fighters and Avril Lavigne.

Sony suffered a series of security breaches last year, with the loss of customer data; last April, security researchers claimed over two million credit card numbers were up for sale as a result.

This latest breach is believed to have taken place soon after but has not, says Sony, involved customer data.

The two men will stand trial in January next year. It’s not clear what the purpose of the data theft was; maybe the hackers just wanted to practise their moves before the material was officially released.