Well, this has to feel good to organizations like the MPAA, who have been banging the drum about antipiracy laws that have some teeth. The first of five convicted operators behind the illegal file-sharing site NinjaVideo.net has been sentenced after all pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and copyright infringement. Co-founder Hana Amal Beshara, 30, of North Brunswick, N.J., will serve 22 months in prison, two years of supervised release, complete 500 hours of community service, repay $209,826.95 that she personally obtained from her work and hand over financial accounts and computer equipment. She was one of the main operators of the site, which gave users the ability to download movies still in theaters or yet to be released, with that business taking in more than $505,000 in income. The site was one of nine taken down in June by Operation In Our Sites, an initiative targeting online piracy that involves Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia made the ruling.
The last remaining co-founder of NinjaVideo.net pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Virginia. The site facilitated illegal downloads of movies and TV shows and took in $505,000 in revenue from ads and donations from users. Justin A. Dedemko, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia. Dedemko’s fellow co-founders Matthew David Howard Smith and Hana Amal Beshara pleaded guilty separately to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement in September. Dedemko was responsible for locating infringing content on the Internet and uploading it to servers used by the NinjaVideo.net website, some of which were located in the Eastern District of Virginia. Dedemko subsequently focused on marketing and advertising, which resulted in the $505,000 in income. Dedemko admitted he personally received $58,004 and agreed to pay restitution. Sentencing is set for February 24, 2012. He faces a maximum of five years. Read More »
A 23-year-old North Carolina man who co-founded a website offering illegal downloads pleaded guilty to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Matthew David Howard Smith admitted that he designed many of the features of NinjaVideo that allowed visitors to grab high-quality downloads of content including movies that had not yet been released in theaters, as well as TV shows. The site went online in February 2008 and was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010. An investigation into NinjaVideo is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in conjunction with piracy task force IPR Center. Smith said he had agreements with advertisers for NinjaVideo and that he and others involved in the site collected more than $500,000 between 2008 and 2010. NinjaVideo also invited its users to make donations and in return granted its premium members access to private forums that held more copyrighted material, according to court documents. Smith faces a maximum of five years in prison on each count, and four other alleged co-conspirators associated with the site are headed for a jury trial beginning Feb. 6. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 16.