NinjaVideo.net admins plead guilty to copyright-related charges

The two men face jail time and fines for their participation in the copyright infringement site

Two administrators of the defunct movie-download site NinjaVideo.net have pleaded guilty to charges related to copyright infringement, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Joshua David Evans, 34, of North Bend, Washington, and Jeremy Lynn Andrew, 33, of Eugene, Oregon, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for their roles at NinjaVideo.net, which provided millions of users with illegal copies of movies, the DOJ said.

Evans pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement related to his role in the Internet release of "Iron Man 2" before the movie reached U.S. theaters. Andrew pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy.

Evans was referred to as the "Head God" of the "uploaders," the site members who were responsible for locating infringing content on the Internet and uploading it to servers used by NinjaVideo.net. Evans also regularly supervised other uploaders based in North America, with more than 10 uploaders involved in the site at times, the DOJ said in a press release.

Andrew was referred to as the "Ninja Head of Security," according to court documents. Andrew was one of the administrators at NinjaVideo.net, served as a moderator at the site's forums and assisted with issues related to the site's servers, the DOJ said.

NinjaVideo.net, which operated from February 2008 until it was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010, allowed visitors to download infringing copies of hundreds of television shows and movies, including some movies still playing in theaters, the DOJ said. Visitors could download much of the infringing content free, but those who paid US$25 obtained access to private forum boards that contained a wider range of infringing material, the agency said.

The site generated more than $500,000 in income from Internet advertising and visitor donations, the DOJ said. Evans received $26,660, while Andrew received $5,250, the DOJ said. Both defendants agreed to pay restitution.

Evans, Andrew and three other alleged co-conspirators were indicted on Sept. 9 on six charges related to their work with NinjaVideo. Evans and Andrew are the third and fourth co-defendants to plead guilty for their roles.

Co-defendants Matthew David Howard Smith and Hana Amal Beshara pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Smith will be sentenced on Dec. 16 and Beshara will be sentenced on Jan. 6. An arrest warrant has been issued for the remaining co-defendant in the indictment, Zoi Mertzanis of Greece.

Evans faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count of conspiracy and copyright infringement, as well as a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Andrew faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a $250,000 fine. Andrew's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags U.S. Department of JusticeZoi MertzanisNinjaVideo.netInternet-based applications and servicese-commerceU.S. District Court for the Eastern District of VirginiaHana Amal BesharainternetMatthew David Howard SmithCriminalJoshua David Evanscopyrightintellectual propertyMusic and audiolegalJeremy Lynn Andrew

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