NinjaVideo Admin Phara Gets 22 Months In Jail, 500 Hours Of Community Service & Has To Pay MPAA $210k
from the well,-well... dept
Today was the sentencing for Hana “Phara” Beshara, the admin for NinjaVideo who has received plenty of attention in the last few months. Just a few hours ago, she was sentenced to 22 months in prison, another two years probation after that, 500 hours of community service and she has to pay back the $209,896.95 that she supposedly made from NinjaVideo to the MPAA. I’m sure they’ll be passing that along to moviemakers, right? Either way, what’s telling here is that the judge appears to have given Beshara significantly less than what the government asked for.
After receiving what appears to be some pretty bad legal advice, Beshara was indicted, and quickly realized that she was left with little choice but to plead guilty in the case. Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about the fantastic and detailed American Prospect article by Rob Fischer, which detailed Beshara’s story in a way where she certainly made it clear that she didn’t agree with the reasonableness of the charges against her. Once again, it seems as if Beshara has been on the receiving end of bad legal advice (talking to the press post-guilty plea, but pre-sentencing… not so smart).
The US Attorney, Neil MacBride (who, it’s important to note, spent years as the Business Software Alliance’s “anti-piracy” boss), asked the judge to throw the book at her, using Fischer’s article to repeatedly claim that Beshara’s “substantial ego” and “inflated sense of self-importance” justified sending a strong message with the sentencing. Who knew that having a big ego was illegal? MacBride — as he used to do with the BSA — totally overplayed the claims of “losses” to the entertainment industry — insisting that, every week, the MPAA alone was harmed to the tune of $1.5 million, “resulting in a staggering sum if the figure is extrapolated” to cover the 120 weeks that the site was in existence. Here’s a tip, Neil, if extrapolating leads you to “a staggering sum,” perhaps it’s because your assumptions are wrong.
Either way, the judge appears to have decided not to completely buy into these claims of harm. While the government “agreed to limit the loss” to just $1 million, even though “the harm was certainly far more than $1 million,” the judge seems to have capped the financial restitution to just her salary from NinjaVideo. The judge appears to have chosen not to also include a fine (which sentencing guidelines would allow between $10,000 and $100,000). On top of that, the judge gave Beshara less time in jail then either what Beshara claimed she expected (3 years) or what the sentencing guidelines and MacBride suggested (46 to 57 months). It seems that the judge didn’t buy into all of MacBride’s assertions.
Either way, expect the government to play this up as some huge victory against the scourge of online infringement and use it to justify continued censorship of websites.