NinjaVideo founders plead guilty to copyright infringement

Two defendants face prison time and three more face a jury trial in February

Two founders of movie download site NinjaVideo.net have pleaded guilty to charges related to copyright infringement, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Hana Beshara, 29, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Last Friday, Matthew David Howard Smith, 23, of Raleigh, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the same charges in the same court.

Beshara and Smith were among five alleged founders of the website indicted on six counts by a grand jury in Virginia earlier in September. Both face five years in prison on each count they pleaded to.

The remaining three defendants face a jury trial starting in February.

NinjaVideo.net, which operated from February 2008 until it was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010, allowed visitors to download infringing copies of hundreds of television shows and movies, including some movies still playing in theaters, the DOJ said. Visitors could download much of the infringing content free, but those who paid US$25 obtained access to private forum boards that contained a wider range of infringing material, the agency said.

NinjaVideo also generated income from advertising, the DOJ said. Beshara told prosecutors that she and the other founders collected more than $500,000 while the site was active, and she received more than $200,000 of the profits, the DOJ said. As part of her plea agreement, Beshara agreed to forfeit assets seized by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in June 2010, including cash, an investment brokerage account, two bank accounts, a PayPal account and one Internet advertising account.

Beshara referred to herself as Queen Phara and "the face and the name behind Ninja," and was the day-to-day administrator of the site, the DOJ said. In that role, Beshara supervised the website and at times directed the release of infringing copies of specific movies and television shows, including through uploads of copyright works by members of the group to computer servers around the world and in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Beshara released frequent podcasts to communicate with NinjaVideo visitors, the DOJ said. In the NinjaVideo Manifesto, she said the site was part of a protest against the movie industry.

"You have done this," she said. "You, the studios with your inflated budgets and your ridiculous salaries. You have fed the mob insignificant tidbits about celebrity antics in order for them to pay out their retirement funds in popcorn prices. But not all amongst this mob are sheep. Sites like NinjaVideo force innovation upon you. This entire community does."

Smith designed much of the NinjaVideo website, the DOJ said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags copyrightinternetlegalvideoe-commerceintellectual propertyU.S. Department of JusticeInternet-based applications and servicesCriminalMusic and audioNinjaVideo.netMatthew David Howard SmithU.S. Immigrations and Customs EnforcementHana Beshara

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?