Hacker who sold unreleased music from Frank Ocean, Kanye West sentenced to 18 months in prison

In the age of streaming and digital releases, leaks have become somewhat of an inevitability. But for every instance of Spotify uploading an album a week too early, there’s more nefarious instances of hackers infiltrating servers to steal unreleased records. That’s the case with 23 year old Adrian Kwiatkowski, a man from Ipswich, Suffolk who is responsible for hacking some of the biggest music acts in the world. 

Kwiatkowski has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his crimes. The young hacker gained access to the cloud storage of artists including Ed Sheeran, Kanye West, Post Malone, and Frank Ocean stealing their unreleased music and trading it on the dark web in exchange for cryptocurrency. According to a City of London police investigation, Kwiatkowski made an estimated £131,000 from his illegal hustle. 

Kwiatkowski was arrested and charged with up to 19 criminal offences, including 14 counts of stealing intellectual property, in September 2019. A search for the hacker was put in motion after a complaint lodged at the New York District Attorney’s office by one of Frank Ocean’s representatives in 2019, claiming someone online with the moniker Spirdark had hacked into Ocean’s Dropbox and stolen files. According to NME, Kwiatkowski was caught after an email linked to the cryptocurrency account of Spirdark was traced back to him. A police raid of his home led to the discovery and seizure of a hard drive containing more than 1000 unreleased songs from over 80 artists. 

Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to all charges in August this year, leading to his sentencing. Speaking to the Associated Press, a representative for The Crown Prosecution Service, Joanne Jakymek said, “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.”