Two men who admitted hacking into the Sony Music database, and stealing thousands of hours of music tracks, including unreleased material by Michael Jackson, have been spared jail.
The two men, James Marks and James McCormick, who are British citizens, downloaded up to 7,000 files, including music by Beyonce.
After pleading guilty to computer misuse offenses, they were only given a six month sentence suspended for a year and each ordered to complete 100 hours community service.
When questioned, the pair claimed they only wanted to gather proof that some Jackson's material released after his death "didn't actually feature" the singer's voice. But Sony Music, in response, has always denied that vocals on some tracks on the posthumous album "Michael" were done by another singer.
Online conversations released in court between Marks and McCormick revealed they talked about selling the material. But this never came to anything.
Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), head of cyber investigations Mick Jamieson said, "The internet's a fantastic tool for everyone to use, but sadly there are one or two individuals who choose to misuse it. However, authorities are now able to to identify what you're doing, find out who you are, and come and arrest you."
Marks and McCormick admitted to two counts of unauthorised access to computing materials, but due to a plea bargain, their six month jail sentences were suspended for a year with more serious charges being completely dropped.
Speaking outside court, James Marks said he was sorry for downloading the files but was still determined to prove Jackson didn't sing on some tracks on 'Michael'.