Parts of pop icon Michael Jackson’s discography, possibly his entire back catalog, have allegedly been stolen from Sony Music by hackers, according to a report from BBC this morning.
It’s uncertain exactly how many songs were stolen. According to a report from The Guardian, hackers pilfered more than 50,000 music tracks, valued at an estimated $250 million, yet the BBC claims Sony won’t confirm how much material was stolen.
E-mails to Sony for comment were not immediately returned on Monday.
Jackson, who had been involved in a tumultuous dispute with the label throughout the early 2000s, died in 2009. Shortly after, in 2010, Sony signed his estate to a seven-year, $250 million contract. The deal, the most expensive music contract in history, allowed the label to release 10 new records containing Jackson’s previously unreleased material posthumously.
Jackson recorded a wealth of music that has yet to be released, including duets with the late Freddie Mercury of Queen and will.i.am, of the Black Eyed Peas.
The Guardian reported that two hackers arrested in connection with the breach, James Marks, 26, of Northamptonshire and James McCormick, 25, from Blackpool, appeared in court on Friday. The two denied the charges under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and won’t appear in court again for trial until January 2013.
The breach comes on the heels of last year’s Sony PlayStation Network fiasco when 77 million gamers had their data lifted from servers in a breach. That hack wound up launching a humiliating series of events for the company that included subsequent attacks on Sony Online Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The Jackson breach apparently occurred shortly after yet wasn’t disclosed until now.