Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (PA/Hannah McKay)
computer hacker who stole unreleased songs by Ed Sheeran and leaked them online in exchange for BitCoin has been jailed.
Adrian Kwiatkowski, 23, broke into the cloud-based accounts of dozens of musicians, obtaining a cache of unaired songs including two of Sheeran’s tracks and 12 songs by US rapper Lil Uzi Vert.
The hacker, known as Spirdark, went on to the DarkWeb to sell the music for cryptocurrency, making a profit of £131,000.
After an international manhunt, the culprit was identified as Kwiatkowski, who lives in Ipswich, and he was charged with a catalogue of cyber crimes.
At Ipswich crown court on Friday, Kwiatkowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Adrian Kwiatkowski stole music from Ed Sheeran
“Kwiatkowski had complete disregard for the musician’s creativity and hard work producing original songs and the subsequent loss of earnings”, said CPS lawyer Joanne Jakymec.
“He selfishly stole their music to make money for himself by selling it on the Dark Web.”
When he was caught, Kwiatkowski had 565 audio files on his Apple Mac laptop, including stolen songs by Vert and Sheeran. Across several devices, investigators found 1,263 unreleased songs by 89 artists.
The international manhunt began when Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was alerted by the managers of several music artists to the hacker Spirdark accessing their cloud-based accounts.
An email address was linked to Kwiatkowski’s Ipswich home, and he was arrested on 12 September 2019.
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, from City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said: “Kwiatkowski was a highly skilled individual who unfortunately saw potential in using his abilities unlawfully. Not only did he cause several artists and their production companies significant financial harm, he deprived them of the ability to release their own work.”
Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to three charges of unauthorised access to computer material, 14 charges of making for sale an article infringing copyright, one charge of converting criminal property and two charges of possession of criminal property.
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