NinjaVideo “Head of Security” Avoids Prison

The former head of security at the now-defunct movie streaming site NinjaVideo has been sentenced by a federal court in Virginia for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The Government demanded a prison term for 33-year-old Jeremy Andrew, but the court decided that three years probation is sufficient as he was not motivated by monetary rewards.

picture of a seizure bannerAt the end of June 2010, nine sites connected to movie streaming, including NinjaVideo, were targeted by the U.S. Government.

It was the first round in the ongoing “Operation in Our Sites” through which more than 300 domain names have been seized to date.

After the site’s domain was seized, five people connected to the movie streaming site were arrested last year. With the sentencing of Jeremy Andrew, all have now been sentenced.

Andrew was accused of taking part in the NinjaVideo conspiracy and pleaded guilty to a copyright infringement charge last October. Andrew, known online as “Htrdfrk,” started out as a regular visitor to the site but was later recruited as staff member.

His tasks were to secure the servers and moderate the forums, which the prosecutor described as important roles.

“Like the other charged defendants, Andrew filled an important role in the NinjaVideo conspiracy; Andrew served as “Ninja Head of Security”, which involved setting up, managing, and securing servers used by the conspiracy to store infringing content.”

“Andrew also served as one of the moderators of the NinjaVideo forum board; in that role, he provided technical support to website visitors, which included assisting visitors with accessing infringing content.”

The prosecutor admitted that, compared to the other defendants, Andrew played the smallest part in the conspiracy. Nevertheless, he asked the court to sentence Andrew to several months in prison. The defense on the other hand argued that a short probation term would be more appropriate, as Andrew has no criminal past and was not motivated by monetary rewards.

The court sided with the arguments provided by the defense and sentenced Jeremy Andrew to three years probation and 150 hours of community service. In addition, he has to pay the MPAA $5,250 in damages.

“The defendant did not seek out to join the conspiracy and was not motivated by any monetary rewards,” was one of the reasons Judge Anthony John Trenga gave for the lower sentence. “The defendant has accepted responsibility for his actions and is remorseful, which the Court believes is sincere,” he added.

The Judge further noted that letters from Andrew’s friends and family that were submitted to the court aided in the lower sentence. While the ruling will probably be welcomed as relatively good news by Andrew, satisfaction at the Department of Justice will be dampened. Unlike in previous cases, the DoJ opted not to issue a press release.

Now that the last of the five arrested NinjaVideo admins has been sentenced, we can give a complete overview of this landmark case.

The harshest sentence was handed to NinjaVideo founder Hana Beshara, who will spend 22 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation and a payment of $210,000 in damages. Fellow admin Matthew Smith received 14 months in prison, two years supervised release, and was ordered to pay back just over $172,000.

Joshua Evans received 6 months in prison, two years probation, and was ordered to pay the MPAA $26,660 restitution. Justin Dedemko was not listed as part of the NinjaVideo conspiracy but will spend 3 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation, and has to repay the MPAA $58,004.

One indicted NinjaVideo admin, Zoi Mertzanis from Greece, is still at large.

The case against NinjaVideo is crucial for several other previously arrested streaming site admins including UK student Richard O’Dwyer who will soon be extradited to the US. Brian McCarthy, the owner of ChannelSurfing.net and Yonjo Quiroa, who operated 16 streaming sites, are both yet to be sentenced.

Note: the original verdict came in last month but has not been reported in the media.

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