Michael Jackson’s Back Catalog Downloaded by Hackers?

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REUTERS

Hackers reportedly made off with Michael Jackson’s entire back catalog during a raid on Sony Music’s servers last year.

Although Sony won’t say how many tracks or what material was stolen, Fox News reports that hackers downloaded the late King of Pop’s entire back catalog, including unreleased tracks. Jackson’s unreleased material included duets with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and the late Freddie Mercury of Queen.

(MORE: Michael Jackson’s Estate: Saved by the Beatles)

The Sony Music breach apparently occurred shortly after hackers broke into Sony’s PlayStation Network in April 2011, making off with a trove of personal data including user names, e-mail addresses, home addresses, birth dates and passwords. A string of attacks on Sony followed, including breaches of Sony Online Entertainment and Sony Pictures. Although the motivation for the security breaches is unclear, Sony had gotten on hackers’ bad sides for suing George Hotz, a hacker who had figured out how to jailbreak the PlayStation 3. (Hotz and Sony eventually settled.)

In the attack on Sony Music, hackers reportedly grabbed more than 50,000 music files from Jackson and other artists. Fox News says Sony paid $395 million for the rights to Jackson’s songs, but other sites report that Sony paid a $200 million guaranteed contract, potentially rising to $250 million, in March 2010.

So is all that money down the drain now? Probably not. According to Billboard, the deal covers the use of Jackson’s music in video games, amusement park rides, TV ads and memorabilia, in addition to the release of 10 music projects over seven years. There’s still plenty of money to be made, even if Jackson’s entire catalog of unreleased tracks appears on BitTorrent sites, which, from what I can tell hasn’t happened yet.

Meanwhile, two U.K. men allegedly connected to the security breach have been arrested and await trial, The Guardian reports. James Marks, 26, and James McCormick, 25, are due to stand trial next January on charges under the Computer Misuse Act and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

(MORE: Michael Jackson: The Last Photos)

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