Two UK men have avoided jail by admitting breaking into servers at Sony Music and downloading Michael Jackson's 50,000-track back catalogue and previously unreleased music.
Michael Jackson's estate signed a $250m recording deal with Sony in 2010, giving it the rights to sell his back catalogue as well as previously unreleased tracks.
James Marks, 27, and James McCormick, 26, hacked into the record company's servers in the US from their homes in Daventry and Blackpool, according to the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
The hackers, who met through a fan website forum, also downloaded music by artists including Elvis, Beyonce, JLS, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, the Telegraph reports.
The pair downloaded around 7,000 files which were completed tracks or the component parts, as well as artwork and videos.
Soca said files recovered from their computers indicated they were planning to sell or trade some of the stolen content.
Marks and McCormick were arrested in May 2011after Sony discovered the breach during an investigation into the massive security breach on Sony's PlayStation Network and online entertainment services the month before. The hack exposed more than 100 million users to fraud.
Both received six-month sentences suspended for one year at Leicester Crown Court after pleading guilty to computer misuse offences at an earlier hearing in September. They were each ordered to complete 100 hours community service.
Mick Jameison, from SOCA Cyber, said: “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.”