In 2019, US authorities initially launched an investigation after several musicians reported to the New York District Attorney that someone known online as Spirdark had hacked multiple accounts and was selling the content. Among them the singer Ed Sheeran.
The investigation linked the email address used to set up Spirdark’s cryptocurrency account to Adrian Kwiatkowski, a 23-year-old from Ipswich. His UK home address was also linked to an IP address used to hack one of the devices.
Kwiatkowski admitted to 19 charges, including copyright infringement and criminal possession of property, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
He had earned £131,000 from the music, City of London Police said.
Ipswich Crown Court heard that when the defendant’s Apple Mac laptop was searched, 565 audio files were discovered, including songs by Sheeran and Vert.
According to police, seven devices, including a hard drive containing 1,263 previously unreleased songs by 89 artists, were seized.
A document saved on the hard drive outlined the method he had used to obtain them along with a stash of Bitcoin that was seized.
Chief Crown Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec said Kwiatkowski had “complete disregard” for musicians’ creativity, hard work and lost income.
“He selfishly stole her music to make money for himself by selling it on the dark web,” she said.
“We will look for ill-gotten gains from these proceeds of crime.”
In August Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in Ipswich Magistrates Court to three counts of unauthorized access to computer material, 14 counts of sale of copyrighted material, one count of criminal property conversion and two counts of possession of criminal property.
He also admitted to receiving bitcoin cryptocurrency for the songs.