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Sony's Michael Jackson Catalog Hacked, Unreleased Song Files Stolen

Michael Jackson H 2009

UPDATE: Two have been charged in the massive digital theft.

The King of Pop's digital kingdom has been raided.

The BBC reports that Sony, which paid $250 million for the rights to Michael Jackson's back catalog and large collection of unreleased and in-progress songs, had its website hacked last spring, with the cyber thiefs swiping an undisclosed number of files from the record company's expensive investment.

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The security breaches came weeks after the high-profile hacking of Sony's online Playstation network, which saw the theft of 77 million gamers' information. James Marks and James McCormick have been charged in Britain with allegedly perpetrating the hack.

Jackson's estate, which was reportedly in $400 million debt at the time of the star's death in 2009, has seen a post-humous profit renaissance; in 2010, a Billboard analysis revealed that the estate made more than $1 billion in the year after his death, from resurgent record sales, his This Is It film and DVD and other licensing deals starting a vast revenue flow.

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With video games, Cirque du Soleil shows and continuing record sales, it is expected that the revenue will increase substantially in the coming years.