US Gov't Continues Indicting People For File Sharing; 5 Indicted For NinjaVideo

from the best-use-of-resources? dept

As lots of people have been submitting, the Justice Department, in coordination with Homeland Security’s ICE group, have indicted five people associated with the site, claiming that together they represented a “conspiracy” to commit criminal copyright infringement. I will say this: compared to the laughable Rojadirecta case, in which the government fails to even show any actual criminal copyright infringement, the indictment here seems a lot stronger — and unless they got something in the indictment totally wrong, I would predict that these five people are going to lose and lose badly in court.

Unlike the Rojadirecta case, the indictment suggests that NinjaVideo hosted content itself. It also suggests that these admins were very much directly involved in seeking out and distributing infringing content, and profiting from it. The fact that the feds are charging admins and uploaders together as “a conspiracy,” is an interesting move, and one that is probably intended to get around the huge problem in the Rojadirecta case: which is that they show users sharing content, but not making money from it, and they show the site admins making money, but not uploading content. You have to show both by a single party for criminal copyright infringement to have happened. So, in this case, they’re trying to link the five people together as a conspiracy. From the indictment, which is obviously one-sided, they make it appear that the two major uploaders were closely aligned with the admins. Whether or not that’s actually true may be a big part of determining whether or not this case works. Also, it’s not clear from the indictment how the hosting setup worked, and if NinjaVideo itself really hosted the material, but that also will be a key point in the case. Assuming that what’s in the indictment is accurate, and not taken out of context, however, I just don’t see NinjaVideo standing much of a chance in court.

One really interesting factoid in the indictment for all the Google-haters, who insist that Google is the major supporter of these kinds of sites: Google pretty quickly killed the AdSense account that the NinjaVideo folks had opened, telling them that it was because the site appeared to be distributing infringing works. Google-haters keep insisting that Google never shuts down such accounts, but this appears to be a case where they spotted the site pretty quickly and shut down the account.

TorrentFreak also points to a video made by Hana Amal Beshara, an admin for NinjaVideo who went by the name Phara. The video suggests that she and the others had some serious problems communicating with their lawyers, but that’s really not going to matter much.

She also notes that they wanted to go public with what was happening ever since ICE seized their website in the very first round of Operation In Our Sites, but that all the lawyers kept saying to stay quiet. She says she now regrets that — especially since she was indicted anyway — and doesn’t plan to stay quiet any more. While I understand the sentiment, the video itself isn’t going to do much to help her case, in that she expresses “no regrets” for her involvement in NinjaVideo. The video makes it clear that she means this because the community “saved her life,” but you can bet that the Justice Department will use that against her in court — claiming she has no remorse.

I still think it’s a bit silly for the Justice Department and Homeland Security to be doing this — as it really should be a civil issue. It seems like Neil MacBride — the former “anti-piracy” VP for the BSA, and now a US Attorney who was heavily involved in the indictment — is paying back some favors to the copyright industry he came from. But, this way Hollywood gets taxpayers to pay for these kinds of lawsuits, instead of having to cut back on their own excesses. I also still question the legality of the original seizure of the domain name prior to any adversarial hearing. But, on the whole, these actual charges appear to have a lot more meat to them than what we’ve seen before in some of the other cases. It won’t stop people from infringing, of course. And it won’t stop similar communities — though they’ll probably drive those groups a bit further underground, making it more difficult for MacBride and his friends to track them down. But I guess as long as they feel they’re “making a difference….”

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Comments on “US Gov't Continues Indicting People For File Sharing; 5 Indicted For NinjaVideo”

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Trolls-R-Us says:

Re: Re:

apologist for piracy?? fuck that, MIKE IS THE DEVIL, it’s his FAULT we have world hunger today, that’s happens when you PIRATE something, a child goes HUNGRY and god KILLS a KITTEN

you FREETARDS are not only his loyal SERVANTS and BRAINWASHED sheeple, you are his spawn, the sorriest, laziest freeloadin’ SCUM there is, bunch of kitten killing BASTARDS trying to STEAL my children’s pudding! can you not think of the CHILDREN!?!?

… and … uh… damn i can’t think like a copyright troll, all i can do is spot loads of outrageous hyperbole & ridiculous claims even a 5 year old would roll their eyes at & capitalize IMPORTANT words for EMPHASIS

…close enough to the real thing, i suppose

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I feel safer knowing these evil people are in jail.
They created kajillions in losses and were responsible for the entire downfall of the global economy.
It is good indepth investigation into these sleazy activities that help keep us protected.

*looks off camera… what do you mean this isn’t a story about the banks screwing us with the mortgage market?!*

Some kids shared some movies, and face more issues than the people who destroyed the world economy… *blink*
How the *BLEEP* does this make the homeland more secure?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I do not think the bankers did something worse, I know they did something worse.
I enjoy you calling them criminals before there is an actual trial, innocent until proven guilty.

While both allegedly broke the law, the zealous prosecution of those with less money than others seems to show an amazing bias in the law that is not supposed to be there.

Everyone is a criminal, there are thousands of silly laws. The punishment and prosecution of those things are supposed to be based on how badly society was damaged by them.

Waiting to see a single bank on trial.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Also lots of banks are in or will soon be in litigation.

Now there are a lot of people who were more instrumental in popping the bubble that are laughing at you while fucking a hooker on a pile of money knowing that they will never get brought to trial but a lot of shady bank administrators are getting dragged over the coals by the FDIC, and the FDIC will make back a fraction of the money it spent keeping these fucked up banks afloat

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:


You’re diagnosing her with sociopathy because she pirates movies and doesn’t see anything wrong with it?

“In other news, half of the world’s population was diagnosed as having sociopathic tendencies this Monday. Experts say that an anonymous commenter made the striking discovery, which had evaded psychiatrists for over a decade.”

Thomas (profile) says:

So how much..

is the copyright industry paying the DOJ and Homeland Security to do its’ bidding? Apparently DOJ and HS are far more concerned with people sharing files than people trying to blow up buildings or kill American citizens.

Of course with DOJ hiring attorneys from the copyright industry, it’s not surprising that DOJ suddenly is on the side of copyright people.

You would think that DOJ and HS have better things to do than kiss the a** of copyright executives.

out_of_the_blue says:

"they'll probably drive those groups a bit further underground"

You freetards keep saying that as if it’s a bad idea to suppress crime at all, and as if it /helps/ piracy to be kept far “underground”. But you’re wacky on both points, so the conclusion is that you’re criminals at heart and enjoy the “bad boy” image of secret lairs and all. — Listen. If your notion of rebelling against oppressive gov’t is to file-share and lurk in the shadows, you’ve already lost.

File-sharing is not freedom. Wrong battle.

MrWilson says:

Re: "they'll probably drive those groups a bit further underground"


+1 usage of term freetard

+1 establishing a strawman

+1 generalizing a whole group of people as criminals without evidence

+1 generalizing the motives of a whole group of people without evidence

Congratulations! You’ve won 4 internets!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "they'll probably drive those groups a bit further underground"

Filesharing is just beautiful.

We all know some people will get a stay in the big house, but since the economy is so bad that may not be a bad thing at, as an inmate you get 2 squares a day, clean clothes, TV, access to education programs, a roof over you head, and complete healthcare plan.

I think I know where I can find a lot of recruits for the cause, the government will love to put all of those homeless in jail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "they'll probably drive those groups a bit further underground"

So not only do you perpetuate this inane fantasy that there are ‘criminals’ and there are decent people as if the two groups do not partially or fully overlaps you go on to use it to paint anyone that disagrees with you as ‘criminals at heart.’ Fantastic work there, establish your ‘enemy’ as being abject and depraved then make it clear that you’re against abject depravity. Where did you work before you came here, some cold war propaganda machine?

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: "[Google] spotted the site pretty quickly and shut down the account."

whats the excuse? I’ve never heard google make an ‘excuse’ about their ads. I’ve heard them try and explain technical realities to folk like yourself who clearly cannot grasp what they do, so automatically assume that because you don’t understand it it cannot possibly be ‘right’, but excuses? Nope.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: 'admins and uploaders together as "a conspiracy,"'

What? Where did you hear that? I’m what you call a criminal and I’ve NEVER heard of Rapidshare doing that!
Oh wait…I think I have it now. I remember that some cyberlockers, I think Rapidshare is one of them, give premium accounts to those whose files are downloaded a certain number of times. Downloading is different than uploading.
However, they do police their links rigorously, and at least 8 times out of 10, if I click a Rapidshare link, its been deleted for copyright infringement.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Can hardly wait to hear from those who hang their hat on the First Amendment.

I really don’t know if there is a 1st Amendment issue with this case or not, but I would like to point out one simple fact:

Whether or not there is another avenue available for restrained speech (ie: different domain name) has no bearing on whether restraining the speech on the initial avenue violates the 1st Amendment.

I am starting to get annoyed with people stating: “Such and such site popped back up with a new domain name, so there is no prior restraint”, because that is simply wrong as far as I know (IANAL).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Can hardly wait to hear from those who hang their hat on the First Amendment

I believe you’re misunderstanding the First Amendment argument. No one has argued they have a right to be involved in copyright infringement. The concern is in the seizure of the *non-infringing* speech. But you know that. Because we’ve told you in the past. And you ignore it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In virtually every case associated with the seizure of a domain asociated with “music and videos” a hue and cry has been raised concerning the First Amendment. The argument, in it most basic sense, is along the lines that these sites contain copious amounts of site principals and user comments.

The “new” site has none of this. Nevertheless, I wonder how many will actually visit the site before weighing in with a First Amendment argument. Having reviewed many third party comments here concerning earlier seizures, in my opinion very few have taken the time to actually look at the sites to see what the fuss is all about.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“. Nevertheless, I wonder how many will actually visit the site before weighing in with a First Amendment argument. Having reviewed many third party comments here concerning earlier seizures, in my opinion very few have taken the time to actually look at the sites to see what the fuss is all about”

Amazing… Brilliant. Just one problem…

How can *anyone* look at the site when it’s been seized?

You can’t judge the old site based on the new one that had to be started from scratch. I find it quite stunning that you take this tact, knowing full well that no one can review the site, especially given that it’s just been forfeited.

With no adversarial hearing…

Just the government’s word while they utilized stall tactics.

Truly disgusting.

Dementia (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While I would tend to agree with you, the problem is that seizing a domain does not equal seizing a server. Perhaps in this case they may have seized servers, but unless I’m really misunderstanding the other cases, all that were seized were the domain names, not the actual hardware and software used for running the site.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The entire point of the seizures is to “preserve evidence”. That’s the pretense here. However, there is nothing to look at and review at the current time because for the last year and a half, the takedowns have been a one sided ordeal.

You can’t look at NV’s new site and say “oh, it’s just the same as the old one”. They set up that domain outside of the US without the same features.

So how can our AC say “look at the site for 1st Amendment issues” when we can’t even do that? It boggles my mind how they came up with their logic train.

Aerilus says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

well, they did have a fully equipped forum with a political section if my memory serves me correctly. but actually taking a tactful and intelligent approach to seizing evidence is far beyond what I would expect from the caliber of law enforcement we employ in america. break down the doors call in SAT and take everything that isn’t nailed down. I have actually seem evidence that has been seized by police it is not pretty when it is returned 6-12 months after the trial. if at all.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have always found it interesting that it is not illegal to DVR a show, but if I download the same show, I’m a pirate…. It doesn’t seem to matter if I subscribe to cable that carries that show or not… download = pirate….

Hard to take the pro IP guys seriously when they are calling someone a pirate for something they already purchased…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not only that they are not paying attention to the competitors appearing on the market place, for music people don’t actually need to do anything wrong, you can just go to any of the hundreds of CC commons websites that offer music that can be distribute legally.

TV is starting to happen, books you have thousands of years worth of them.

Not counting the obvious other channels already mentioned like radio and TV that are legal to record and impossible to track.

A Monkey with Atitude (profile) says:

Re: Re:


I have paid to see maybe 3 movies in a theater in the last 3 years… they still sux, so i will keep voting with my wallet. And the Movie Apologist and Movie Industry will keep calling me a pirate and thief (because they didn’t make the money they thought they should). I made the choice not to watch the crap sammiches they keep calling good movies and going to overpriced room with sticky floors and uncomfortable seats and you call it a good experience.

I have broken no law, yet you call me a criminal.
I have spoken nothing but truth, yet you call me a liar.
I have downloaded nothing, but I am a thief.

Here is a hint, if you want my MONEY for your WORK, don’t treat me like shit, or use extortion (Government Guns)….

Actually try work in why your customers say you fail (they are voting with their wallets and their downloads)…

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Stealing is illegal”

No shit Sherlock? Nobody is arguing that point.

“To anybody who thinks that still thinks that downloading movies and TV shows is ok….. it’s stealing”

And that’s where you are so astronomically wrong. It is not stealing. I know, it makes for a strong sounding argument, but it doesn’t fit the colloquial nor the legal definition. This is something I’ve explained over and over again.

Stealing is an act that the law defines as taking of property which removes it from the possession of the rightful owner. In other words, it causes loss of property. Copyright infringement does not remove what one person has and transfers possession to another, nor does it cause a loss. It actually leaves more where there was less. You can’t label something stealing if it doesn’t take anything away from the owner and actually creates more of it. And no, “potential” profits don’t count. You can’t claim a loss of something you never had.

Call it what it is, a violation of a government granted privilege to restrict copying, or copyright infringement for short. Only someone with the mind of a child would equate the copying of information to “stealing”, but idiots like you enjoy trying to boil down definitions to their most broad and over-simplified levels so as to capture the act under the term of “stealing”.

What you paytards fail to realize every time, is that all art, be it music, movies, books, etc, are all forms of communication, thus speech. When you lock up speech behind copyright, you’re censoring speech. This goes against the First Amendment. Your precious profits shouldn’t even figure into my civil liberties to say what I want, where I want, and when I want. The internet is the greatest tool ever created for promoting truly free speech and communication. You’re just going to have to adapt your business model to accept that fact.

“Thinking about what hurts and doesn?t hurt sales misses the point entirely. A corporation?s profits must never be at the center of policymaking, much less the center of determining what fundamental civil liberties we have as free citizens.” – Rick Falkvinge

garm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From wikipedia:

The actus reus of theft is usually defined as an unauthorized taking, keeping or using of another’s property which must be accompanied by a mens rea of dishonesty and/or the intent to permanently deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use.

Lets break this definition down so we can see it clearly:

Theft is impossible since any item downloaded off the internet doesn’t really exist. It is impossible to “steal” an idea and it is impossible to steal via copyright infringment. Calling it theft is intellectually dishonest

You can talk about being deprived of income by infringement but it can never be “theft”. The failure of content industries to adapt to a changing market should never be a criminal issue, especially when study after study has shown that people will use money on things THEY FEEL ARE WORHT IT and strangely enough treating your customers as thieving bastards doesn’t help in this.

And all this posits that people will always buy everything they download, completely ignoring that a big part of culture is sharing, and modern copyright laws are all about locking content up. It is no wonder that people don’t respect these laws, they treat something intangible (1 and 0 on the internet) as if they have an actual value (in the same way that an apple will always have an actual value) when people know that they don’t have any inherent value.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Stealing is illegal…”

And water is wet. What does this have to do with copyright infringement?

“To anybody who thinks that still thinks that downloading movies and TV shows is ok…”

I recently downloaded the entire TV series “The Secret Life of Machines”. Via a bittorrent I found on The Pirate Bay. What was wrong with that?

“…it’s stealing…”

This subject has been covered so many times it’s died of asphyxiation. Copyright infringement is not theft.

“…go out to movie theater once in a while, pay for a ticket and have a great time watching it.”

No number of theater tickets will allow me to watch “The Secret Life of Machines”. So how does this work again?

You seem to have a really simplistic view of the world. You might want to withhold comment until you’ve picked up a bit more understanding of the subject and come up with some better arguments.

blaktron (profile) says:

"Stealing" Content

To those who claim that getting content from an source not authorized by the copyright holder is “Stealing” I ask you this: If taking away potential economic activity (which is what you are describing when you say ‘stealing music’) is ‘stealing’, then isn’t all capitalism by definition theft? Since anytime I am forced to pay for something it takes away other potential economic activity, wouldn’t that definition of theft bleed into all commerce eventually?

How about taxes then? All taxes would be stealing under that definition. Allowing a copyright to exist would be stealing from every single person who does not get that copyright.

I’m not speaking about morality at all here, thats a totally separate issue, I’m speaking specifically and narrowly about the economic impact. Explain to me, without using ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ how “copyright” is different economically than a “tax” from the perspective of demanding money for services without truly asking the consumer.

Andrew (profile) says:

I been reading Techdirt for awhile but I am troubled by a lot of the comments about people and pirates.

1. It seems that anyone who is even slightly associated to piracy is guilty (no matter if its taken out of context). When has it shifted that we assume people are guilty first before assuming they are innocence? Everyone needs to get a chance to prove their innocence but its also not fair to immediately lump someone in the guilty pile.

2. Most of the time the ones pirating (I am talking about games/cams in cinemas etc) are going to be the best customers. They are the ones going out and actually buying the games and going to movies to share. Now I am not saying this is right by any means but its a point most people overlook.

3. How is it any different recording a show on your dvr, vcr (heck even your computer) than downloading a tv show? I have cable (no dvr) but I am never around when most of my shows are showing. I love outside the US so even online things are blocked for me most of the times. So either I do not watch my show or I find another means. People may argue I have a sense of entitlement and I partially agree with you, I should probably get a dvr and record my show and watch it later or don’t bother. So my question is what do the tv producers prefer? Because I will happily not watch my show and they will still lose a customer.

4. I don’t like piracy but it has its place in the world. I tend to stay away from it as much as I can but there has to be an easier way to get your product (whatever that may be) to a customer (like myself) without me choosing not to bother. In the end of the day ask yourself is someone who pirates and someone who chooses not to bother considered a lost sale?

Finally I do not agree with Ninja Video or the stance they took etc. I think people should be punished for the crime they commit. However the punishment should fit the crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Being outside the US, acts in your country of residence are governed by your national law. Recognize, however, that if actions in your country of residence touch or effect international commerce with the United States, it is possible that a cause of action may be assertable within the US under its laws.

Of course, this is a difficult matter of US law as a necessary requirement is that the US Courts must be able to establish in personam (over the person) or in rem (over the property) jurisdiction to have the authority to adjudicate the matter.

Andrew (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Okay…I do understand that but what about my other points that I pointed out.

I have no problem paying for things that I like. I regularly do that to support the people. But my overwhelming point is that I am a customer who is willing to get it by legit means but can’t in some scenarios.

In the end of the day I would choose to not have something over pirating it but in both instances is that considered a lost sale? Piracy seems to be “apparently” cause companies to lose money since they did not buy it legitimately (I really don’t agree with this as it makes no sense). But if I choose not to pirate and just not bother wouldn’t that be cause for a lost sale too??

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

True. Copyright infringement does have its place in the world. The best example I can point to is the anime market. In the 70’s and 80’s, the only way you could get anime was through bootlegged VHS, brought over from Japan. Some people saw a potential market there, and started dubbing these shows and selling them, which started pretty much a whole new industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

See: 17 USC 506 and certain provisions contained in 17 USC 512. These provisions each refer to specific sections in Title 28, and it is under these sections that the DOJ proceeds when it determines that a criminal proceeding is appropriate.

Note that in Section 512 the subject of linking is specifically addressed. It the prima facie elements are believed to be met, the DOJ is authorized by law to proceed under Title 28. Note, though, that the prima facie elements are quite constrained.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What I like about the law is that it fails to show time constraints ti just assumes that anything can be considered a crime since even if I earned almost to nothing it would still be a crime under those terms depicted there.

$100 bucks per year over 16 years would be enough to satisfy the financial constraints imposed by the law.

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