Late June 2010, nine sites connected to unauthorized movie streaming were targeted by US law enforcement.
NinjaVideo, at the time one of the Internet’s most popular video portals, was one of the first targets in the now-famous and ongoing Operation in Our Sites.
Five people connected to NinjaVideo were arrested and in September 2011 they were indicted by a federal grand jury. After pleading guilty on September 23rd, yesterday one of the site’s founders was sentenced in Alexandria, Va..
Matthew David Howard Smith, known online as Dead1ne, received 14 months in prison for his activities at Ninja. U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga also ordered Smith to serve two years of supervised release.
Of the total $505,000 said to have been collected by NinjaVideo in ad revenue and donations since its creation in February 2008, Smith is said to have received $172,387. The court ordered Smith to repay this amount and forfeit five financial accounts and previously-seized sundry computer equipment.
When compared to the punishment handed out to NinjaVideo co-founder Hana Beshara earlier this month, Smith was treated relatively leniently. Beshara, known online as ‘Phara’, was sentenced to 22 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation, 500 hours of community service and ordered to repay nearly $210,000.
In contrast to Beshara, 23-year-old Smith appears to have caused the authorities much less of a headache since his guilty plea. After her sentencing, the hugely outspoken 30-year-old Beshara posted comments to Facebook which suggested she had no regrets. The outburst incensed the authorities and she was rushed directly to a local prison to begin her sentence.
Three former operators of NinjaVideo are yet to be sentenced including 34-year-old Joshua David Evans (known online as Wadswerth), 33-year-old Jeremy Lynn Andrew (known online as htrdfrk), and 28-year-old Justin A. Dedemko (known online as Afr1ka). All face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced in the coming months.
Zoi Mertzanis of Greece, known online as “Tik”, is accused of being one the site’s most active uploaders. A warrant is outstanding for his arrest.