19-Year-Old Hacker Arrested for Distribution of Unreleased Music

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated September 27, 2021

A young hacker from Ipswich, U.K., was arrested by the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and faces accusations of hacking into cloud accounts belonging to artists, stealing, and distributing unreleased music. The 19-year-old wasn’t just casually pirating the files, but instead was selling them in exchange for cryptocurrency, hoping to keep his identity a secret. However, it seems that the hacker wasn’t careful enough, or capable of erasing his electronic traces, as it was actually American investigators who tracked him down and tipped the PIPCU with the relevant information.

Back in June, Thom Yorke, a founding member of the Radiohead rock band had his cloud account compromised. The hacker stole 18 hours of previously unreleased music that Yorke had ripped from Sony MiniDisks back in the 90ies, and demanded a ransom of $150k from the artist otherwise he threatened to release the music. The artist responded with courage, denying to pay the hacker anything, and instead uploaded the stolen music on Bandcamp, making it freely available for download. The investigation of this incident was launched by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and it looks like the actor was identified back then.

Music piracy is a severe problem for creators, especially when hackers release music that they didn’t even get the chance to make legally available. For this reason, the authorities are especially attentive with cases that involve unreleased material. The commissioner of the City of London Police has made the following statement about the recent arrest: “Today’s action marks a significant point in our investigation into the individuals responsible for stealing music and selling it on illegal streaming websites, worldwide. This sort of crime causes significant financial loss to those who work so incredibly hard to produce, write, and make music for their fans to love and enjoy.”

Unreleased music finds its way to the public through various channels, one being file-hosting platforms were people upload whatever they want. Back in June, the RIAA took down Nofile.io and Mixstep.com, after they found out that users were frequently uploading copyright-infringing content, and even unreleased music. The RIAA comprises of 1600 major music labels, so nothing that concerns music piracy can fly under their radar for long.

Do you consider the release of unpublished music a crime, or just another form of casual piracy? Let us know in the comments down below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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