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Grand Jury Indicts Illegal Movie Download Service

13 Sep, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Investigation into NinjaVideo.net included Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security and the DOJ

A federal investigation that last summer shutdown a website allegedly offering illegal Hollywood movie downloads has resulted in indictments of five individuals with one count of conspiracy and five copyright infringement counts for their involvement.

The federal grand jury Sept. 9 returned an indictment in Alexandria, Va., charging Hana Amal Beshara, 29, of North Brunswick, N.J., and Matthew David Howard Smith, 23, of Raleigh, N.C., identified in the indictment as founders and administrators of NinjaVideo; Joshua David Evans, 34, of North Bend, Wash., and Zoi Mertzanis, 36, a resident of Greece, alleged to be two of the most active uploaders of copyrighted material to the site; and Jeremy Lynn Andrew, 33, of Eugene, Ore., the alleged head of security for the website.

From February 2008 until June 2010, NinjaVideo.net allegedly offered users the ability to illegally download infringing copies of copyright-protected movies and television programs. Many of the movies offered on the website still were playing in theaters, while others had not yet been released.

The website allegedly offered many copyrighted movies and television shows free of charge, and offered access to a greater selection of copyrighted content for a "donation" of at least $25. The website also generated significant revenue through advertising. The defendants allegedly collected more than $500,000 during the website's two-and-a-half years of operation and facilitated the infringement of millions of dollars of copyrighted movies, television programs and software products.

“The action today marks one of the first such prosecutions of an illegal download and streaming site – indeed, one of the most notorious infringing sites on the Internet until it was shut down by law enforcement,” Mike Robinson, EVP of content protection and chief of operations with the MPAA, said in a statement.

Robinson said rogue websites such as NinjaVideo.net victimize not only the buyers of these products, but the more than 2.2 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on a healthy motion picture and television industry.

The defendants, who face up to $500,000 in fines if convicted, among other restitution, will be arraigned Sept. 16 in Virginia.


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