Crime definitely doesn’t pay, at least not for hacker Adrian Kwiatkowski who was charged with copyright infringement and possessing illegal property after pirating music.
Artists Frank Ocean Lil Uzi Vert, Ed Sheeran, Kanye West, and Post Malone have fallen prey to pirates. Reportedly, several artist managers stated that music had been stolen from their clients’ cloud accounts by Kwiatkowski’s online persona, Spirdark, and sold around the dark web illegally.
The 23-year-old, from Ipswich, was arrested by the City Of London police in 2019 following an investigation conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘earning’ $147,000 in bitcoin from selling stolen songs.
Authorities discovered an email address he used to register a cryptocurrency account, which they then linked the email to his U.K. home address which was connected with IP address that was used to hack the cloud accounts where the music was held.
The investigation uncovered a hard drive with 1,263 songs by 89 different artists. His MacBook also has 565 stolen audio files from artists, among them Ed Sheeran and Frank Ocean.
Kwiatkowski had accumulated over $147,000 in bitcoin transactions, of which, Chief Crown Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec has stated that he may have to pay a fine or offer some form of financial restitution.
“Kwiatkowski had complete disregard for the musicians’ creativity and hard work producing original songs and the subsequent loss of earnings. He selfishly stole their music to make money for himself.”
Adrian Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to three charges of unauthorized access to computer material, 14 charges of selling copyrighted material, one charge of converting criminal property, and two charges of possession of the criminal property, and is currently serving an 18-month sentence.
His Lawyer Steven Dyble, defended his client in the initial hearing, telling Yahoo! he was “utterly naive” and said, “It was a bit like committing a bank robbery in broad daylight using your own car which was registered in your own name.”