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ICE Busts Website that Let People Download Current and Yet-to-be Release Movies

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds have busted operators of NinjaVIdeo.net, a website that enabled millions of visitors to download  movies that were playing in the theaters and some that had yet to be released. The site also offered television shows.

The probe, lead by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, resulted in charges out of Alexandria, Va., against five people for conspiracy and copyright infringement, authorities said Friday.

Authorities alleged that the NinjaVideo website operated from February 2008 until it was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010.

NinjaVideo enabled visitors to download copyright-protected movies and television programs in high-quality formats. Many of the movies and shows were offered free of charge. In some cases, it offered the materials for a “donation” of at least $25, ICE said.

On top of that, the website generated significant revenue through advertising, authorities said.

“The defendants allegedly collected more than $500,000 during the website’s 2.5 years of operation and facilitated the infringement of millions of dollars of copyrighted movies, television programs and software products,” an ICE press release stated.

The indictment charged 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.

The Motion Picture Association of America issued a statement Friday, saying:

“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 in June 2010.”

“These ‘worst of the worst’ rogue websites victimize not only the buyers of these products, but the more than 2.2 million hardworking Americans whose livelihoods depend on a healthy motion picture and television industry.”

 


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