An Ipswich man has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after he was found guilty of hacking and selling unreleased music on the dark web by names such as Frank Ocean, Ed Sheeran and Kanye West. The conviction comes after an investigation into Adrian Kwiatkowski’s hacking by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office took place in 2019, linking his email address to his IP address.
Kwiatkowski, known by his online handle Spirdark, had gained access to a number of secure file transfer accounts belonging to musicians and started to sell the unreleased works in exchange for cryptocurrency, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. In total, it is said that Kwiatkowski made £131,000 in sales.
At the Ipswich Crown Court last Friday, Kwiatkowski was revealed to have had 1,263 individual music files from 89 different artists on his laptop and admitted to accepting Bitcoin payments for the songs pirated. One track by Frank Ocean was sold for close to £890, the convicted admitted.
Kwiatkowski admitted 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. CPS’ Joanne Jakymec said the hacker had a “complete disregard for the musicians’ creativity" and "selfishly stole their music to make money for himself by selling it on the dark web".
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit at City of London Police, also commented by saying: "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."
What is the punishment for pirating music?
It is illegal to download movies, music, e-books, and other copywriter files without consent in the United Kingdom. The penalties vary based on the exact crime, but if you are found guilty of violating digital copyright law in the UK, the penalty can be upwards of 5 years in prison and a £5,000 fine, though these punishments and fines may be more severe depending on the nature of the product involved.