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Smooth criminals spared the clink for hacking Sony's Jacko archive

100 hours of unpaid graft for music raid. Now who's bad?

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Two hackers were spared jail after admitting breaking into Sony's network and lifting unreleased Michael Jackson songs among 7,900 other files.

James Marks, 27, of Daventry, Northants, and James McCormick, 26, of Blackpool, also swiped songs by acts including Elvis, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears as well as artwork and video material. The pair were arrested in May 2011 after Sony notified the authorities about the security breach.

The hacking pair were then tracked down by officers of the UK's Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Police say they found evidence on the seized computer suggesting the suspects intended to sell a portion of the lifted tracks. According to a statement by SOCA on the case, both perps were huge fans of the late Smooth Criminal star:

The duo, who met through a fan website forum, obtained a compromised e-card which had been used to share data and this enabled them to access the servers in the US. They searched for and downloaded Jackson-related files, including unreleased tracks, to their home computers. McCormick then wrote a script to speed up the process, and they also obtained material of other artists on Sony Music’s books.

The two men pleaded guilty to computer misuse crimes at a court hearing in September prior to each receiving a six-month suspended sentence and a 100-hour community service order at Leicester Crown Court last week.

Speaking after sentencing, prosecutor Gregor McGill said: "These men were fully aware that the files they obtained on their computers were subject to copyright and that they took steps to sell on and to share the music with a wider audience in internet forums.

"In simple terms, these men broke into a computer system and took music files that were not theirs to take. That was criminal activity." ®

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