If you download movies from the Internet then there’s a small chance you’ll get caught. If you run a site offering the movies for download then the chances of being caught ramp up considerably. Especially if you’re the public face of said site.
Hana Amal Beshara, the co-founder of NinjaVideo [domain seized], a website which offered downloads of first-run movies, has been sentenced to 22 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. In addition she will complete 500 hours of community service and have to repay the $209,826.95 she is alleged to have earned from the site.
NinjaVideo was one of nine websites taken down in June 2010 as part of Operation In Our Sites. In the two years the site was running it brought in around $500,000. Beshara is one of five admins convicted over the site, all of whom have pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and copyright infringement.
A Fair Sentence?
While I’m not suggesting for a moment that Beshara deserved a longer prison sentence, the financial penalty of having to pay back the money she earned from the site is quite light, certainly compared to the fines doled out to individuals accused of sharing music online.
Jammie Thomas has been ordered to pay millions of dollars for sharing only a few music tracks over the Internet. Is being a lone file-sharer a more serious crime than running a website allowing others to download copyrighted material? Of course not, but it can be twisted that way in order to set an example.
Beshara herself has admitted doing wrong, and she knew the NinjaVideo website was illegal. Which goes against her former assertions that she and her fellow administrators were navigating “gray areas of laws.” This admission likely helped her get a lighter sentence.
Will this stop others following in her footsteps? Not a chance. As one piracy site gets taken down dozens of others launch in its place. The MPAA and Hollywood as a whole must realize they’re fighting a battle that was lost long ago.
[Via Ars Technica]
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