Israeli arrested for hacking Madonna song library

Suspect accused of stealing unpublished music to trade on the Internet; pop diva had to release songs ahead of schedule after they leaked

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Madonna performs in Tel Aviv during her Sticky and Sweet Tour in September 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)
Madonna performs in Tel Aviv during her Sticky and Sweet Tour in September 2009. (Amir Meiri/Flash90)

Police revealed on Wednesday they had arrested a man on suspicion that he hacked into the computer of pop diva Madonna and stole unpublished songs to sell them on the Internet.

The development followed an undercover investigation by the cyber-crime unit of the Lahav 433 special investigations department of the police.

Cops began the probe when Madonna’s legal representative lodged a complaint after new, unpublished material from the singer was leaked to the Internet a few months ago.

The investigation was carried out in close coordination with the FBI and revealed that the suspect, 38, may have hacked into other celebrities’ computers.

According to police, the suspect took the songs and then tried to trade them online.

Police confiscated computers and media material from the suspect’s home in Tel Aviv. He was to be brought before the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later in the day.

The hacking and subsequent leak apparently prompted a surprise preview of Madonna’s new album in December 2014 when the artist released six songs on iTunes and various streaming services.

The songs were released because several in-progress demos were leaked earlier that week, publicist Liz Rosenberg said at the time.

Madonna, who has twice performed in Israel, said in a statement that she had wanted to wait until a different holiday season.

“I was hoping to release my new single ‘Living For Love’ on Valentine’s Day with the rest of the album coming in the spring,” she said. “I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift.”

Asked about her recording security, she said it already had been quite tight, so the leak came as a surprise.

“We don’t put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information,” she said.

“Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don’t leave music laying around.”

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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