Israel arrests man for stealing, selling Madonna songs

Singer Madonna performs on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California
Singer Madonna performs on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California

Israeli police arrested a man Wednesday suspected of hacking into computers and stealing songs of international pop stars, including Madonna, before leaking them online, police said.

A law enforcement source said the investigation was linked to a complaint filed by a local representative of the US star, although no names were mentioned in an official police statement.

"The investigation by the national cyber unit began after a complaint from the Israeli representative of an international female artist," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in the statement.

"The man is suspected of offences of accessing computer material, and fraud," she said, adding that the undercover investigation was carried out in collaboration with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

She said the Tel Aviv resident, born in 1976, was believed to have stolen work from a number of artists and sold it online.

Israeli news website Walla said the probe began after a private investigators were commissioned by Madonna's Israeli-born manager, Guy Oseary, to find the source of the breach to her computer.

According to a protocol of a court hearing near Tel Aviv, the suspect had no criminal record or formal computer training, and his public-appointed lawyer denied any offenses on the behalf of her client.

The remand was extended until Sunday, with the court saying the suspect's name could be published on Thursday, after his defence requesting a ban on it due to him being "known to the public."

According to Israeli media, the suspect had participated in a local televised talent show as a singer, with a recording of his singing broadcast on military radio showing a stark lack of musical talent.

Icelandic singer Bjork said Tuesday she would release her new album "Vulnicura" months ahead of schedule after becoming the latest artist to suffer an online leak.

Songs from the album emerged on pirate sites Tuesday, several days after Bjork announced it would be released in March and provided a list of songs.

Last month, Madonna released six songs from her upcoming album months ahead of schedule after early versions appeared online. The diva called the leak "artistic rape" and said the leaked tracks were not her final versions.

Internet leaks of albums have become increasingly common in an era in which reproducing music files requires little technical skill and pirate websites enjoy an eager listenership.

© 2015 AFP

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