As reported by the Associated Press, Adrian Kwiatkowski – from Ipswich in eastern England – illegally accessed cloud-based accounts owned by a number of artists, and subsequently made electronic copies of their unfinished songs. He then sold the material for cryptocurrency, raking in an estimated USD$147,000 (£131,000).
Kwiatkowski was caught after Frank Ocean’s representatives launched a complaint with the New York District Attorney’s office in 2019. They claimed that someone online, who went as “Spirdark”, had accessed the Dropbox account of Ocean’s producer and downloaded unreleased music from it.
The email address for Spirdark’s cryptocurrency account was traced back to Kwiatkowski, and after further investigations, he was arrested by London Police Department’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Several items were seized from his home, including a hard drive containing 1,236 unreleased songs by more than 80 artists.
According to the Associated Press, Joanne Jakymec of the Crown Prosecution Service 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.”
“Cybercrime knows no borders, and this individual executed a complex scheme to steal unreleased music in order to line his own pockets,’’ Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg Jr added.