In the morning of September 23 last year, a team of 8 police officers, assisted by a member of the Hollywood-backed Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), raided a house in Salisbury, England.
They arrested a then 31 year-old man, known online as SilentNinja, and seized all his computers, mobile phones, cameras, memory cards and hundreds of DVD backups. The raid was the result of an investigation carried out in the months before.
The investigators found several of SilentNinja’s releases on The Pirate Bay, but it was CCTV footage of the local movie theater that eventually led to the arrest. Aside from improving releases from other groups, SilentNinja also camcorded several movies on his own, and copies of those eventually ended up online.
After his arrest SilentNinja was taken to a police station where he was interviewed and released some 12 hours later. In the months that followed the police searched the seized equipment for further evidence and the Salisbury man was eventually charged with several copyright-related offenses.
Last Friday, during a hearing at the Salisbury court, SilentNinja plead guilty to distributing and selling several copyrighted movies.
For three movies – Repo Man, I Love You Phillip Morris and Ninja Assassin – he made adjustments to existing pirated movies which were then uploaded to The Pirate Bay by others. Four other movies – Resident Evil 3D, Devil, Going The Distance and Piranha 3D – he cammed himself at a local cinema and sold the copies to interested parties. These cams didn’t appear online, as far as the defense was aware.
Talking to TorrentFreak, SilentNinja said that financial and mental health issues drove him to sell pirated movies for profit.
“I only did the camming myself for financial gain, due to personal circumstances at the time. If the situation wasn’t as bad as it was, I would have never sold content as we are here to share and not profit. This is the main regret of the whole thing because of my mental state, I went against what it’s all about and that’s what pisses me off,” he says.
The arrest and the investigation that followed led to some dark months for SilentNinja, full of mixed feelings. During talks with TorrentFreak it became apparent that he still feels a strong connection to his old habit, and we were told that he plans to release some guides on how people can put the video editing skills he learned to use for legal purposes.
In the coming weeks SilentNinja will meet with the probation service to discuss his personal health issues, and they will send a letter of notification to the courts along with sentencing proposals. SilentNinja is then expected to receive his sentencing in four weeks.
Although rare, this is not the first time that someone from the UK will be sentenced for camcording and subsequently distributing movies.
Earlier this year 25-year-old Christopher Clarke from Scotland was sentenced to 160 hours of community service for camming and uploading several movies. And September 2010, then 22-year-old Englishman Emmanuel Nimley was sentenced to 6 months in jail for a similar offense.