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Piracy Crime United States Your Rights Online

NinjaVideo.net Founder Gets 14 Months 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
angry tapir writes "A Virginia judge has sentenced Matthew David Howard Smith, a founder of the NinjaVideo.net website, to 14 months in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. Smith was indicted along with four others late last year. The DOJ charged that they illegally provided copyright-protected movies and TV programs for download from the NinjaVideo.net website. The site operated from February 2008 until authorities shut it down in June 2010."
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NinjaVideo.net Founder Gets 14 Months

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:32PM (#38787415)

    The ninjas were actually.... pirates?!

  • meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:34PM (#38787433)
    The TSA's jack-booted goons can steal $40,000 (real money, not imaginary money) from your luggage and only get 6 months for it.
    • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Informative)

      by bky1701 (979071) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:56PM (#38787601) Homepage
      Of course, they irradiate you and violate your civil rights as part of their job. Theft is rather inconsequential.
    • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by reboot246 (623534) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:07PM (#38787671) Homepage
      The real thieves are elected. Congress makes the TSA look like pikers.

      Throw them all out this November. If you recognize the name on the ballot, vote for the other guy.
      • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday January 23, 2012 @12:12AM (#38788013)

        $100 says that even if 100% of who is in office, flipped, it would not make a damned bit of diff.

        people are people. the system allows people to join politics and get rich.

        THAT is the problem.

        nothing can be fixed until you fix that.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        That's stupid. If you want to get ten coins face up, you don't flip them all every time and hope for the best.

        Flailing about in a rage won't accomplish anything. The only way to make things better is to actually do your homework and vote for the best person you can find each time.

        • These coins have faces on both sides. That's why flipping them won't make a difference.

          And really..... "The Other Guy"? Democracy shouldn't be about having to choose from two evils. There should be enough options to choose from. Maybe the state representatives are a bad way to have your vote represented in Washington. How about having at least congress voted for nationally? That way other views than straight democrat/conservative get a chance to actually get representation.
      • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday January 23, 2012 @01:19AM (#38788343) Homepage Journal

        Throw them all out this November. If you recognize the name on the ballot, vote for the other guy.

        Won't make a bit of difference as long as corporate money pays for our elections.

        Who would ever say no to a corporation if they know that corporation can turn around and spend $100million on an ad campaign to destroy them, and do it anonymously?

        We've had a coup and the corporations have taken over. Elections, congress, president...they're all just a reality TV show to keep the public occupied while the economy is looted.

        • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by schnell (163007) <meNO@SPAMschnell.net> on Monday January 23, 2012 @01:54AM (#38788537) Homepage

          Karma suicide in 3, 2, 1...

          We've had a coup and the corporations have taken over.

          I know it's super cool on Slashdot to talk about how the US is the worst country in the world, it's a fascist dictatorship, all elections are run by corporations, Soylent Green is made by the Federal Reserve, etc. But honestly that is a very simplistic view of things that fails to account for the complex interlocking of interests that makes up US public policy.

          If corporations really did "own" the US government...

          • Why did the government deny AT&T's merger request with T-Mobile, even with the $millions AT&T spends on lobbying?
          • Why do Federal and state governments keep laying taxes on tobacco, even with the $millions the tobacco companies spend on lobbying?
          • Why did the Sarbanes-Oxley act pass when all big corporations absolutely hate it and lobbied against it?
          • Why did the government reject the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the US when the oil industry spent $millions lobbying for it?

          The truth is that corporations or other interest groups that spend a lot on lobbying often get their way. But they don't always get their way or "own" the government - when enough people speak out against it, it does actually make a difference. We do have a democracy in the United States ... even if you don't like the outcomes sometimes. That means you should convince your fellow Americans to make smarter voting choices, not blithely dismiss the system as corrupt.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            Right. This is why the government started an investigation of the financial sector, arrested Geithner and Poulson, closed the FED, and bailed out people and not corporations, why everything is sooooo transparent especially with monetary policies, and that we "see in Washington, the kind of government that can be accounted for" (do you even remember who said that joke few years ago?). You must be right, nobody bought the government...
          • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:29AM (#38789081)

            Here's a graph [economist.com] that explains it for you.

            At left, we see that as people at the bottom of the income spectrum care more about an issue, the probability of action on that issue scarcely budges. At right we see that policy responds a little more to median preferences. But what's clear in both is that the rich are much more successful at getting their issues on the docket.

            So no, money alone does buy you your interests. There will obviously be counter-examples. But the policy decisions will largely prevail in your favour unless there is a large countervailing public opinion (as there was with all the examples you've provided). Basically, unless a large portion of the public decides it's an issue, the decision will go in favour of the wealthy.

            Money in politics is the single biggest corrupting factor in politics. Remove direct money & indirect money & benefits will be the next biggest factor. & it'll keep going that way, but each time the totals will (in theory) keep decreasing so you're making a net positive change.

            • by delinear (991444)
              Unfortunately the people who vote on removing the money are the ones receiving the money. Short of revolution, it's incredibly difficult to kick start that process. In the UK we had a huge scandal over politicians' expense claims which played out over months in the mainstream media which resulted in a couple of notable heads rolling, red faces and slapped wrists all around, and what, slight re-wording of the voluntary codes of practice and pretty much business as usual?
          • You're right, it's not a 100% slam dunk situation yet.

            Funny thing is, there seem to be weird swings, with the media lobbies and the OMG Terrorist lobbies somehow getting way more than their share of wins. Tobacco isn't (yet!) digitally reproduce-able, and the Terrorist is the Universal Boogeyman who can never be declared defeated.

            So yes, we're not quite killing people for being atheists yet, but it's getting pretty bad.

    • Re:meanwhile: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:35PM (#38787799) Homepage Journal

      The TSA's jack-booted goons can steal $40,000 (real money, not imaginary money) from your luggage and only get 6 months for it.

      Oh buh-ruther. The TSA doesn't have that much style. They probably wear cheap Chinese made oxfords with laces that break. But they work for *us* at a pay rate set by *us* under laws passed by legislators *we* elected. We're too chicken to accept that flying has *some* risk; too cheap to do anything about it; and so mentally indolent we let government vendors set security priorities.

      There's nothing outstandingly evil about a man who can't resist the temptation of pocketing a huge wad of unguarded cash that passes through his hands. The wickedness in our character is too petty for us to be served by genuine, glamorous evil (the SS in their jackboots and Hugo Boss designed uniforms). No, we get a mirror of our national character. We get *venality*.

    • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Informative)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Monday January 23, 2012 @12:08AM (#38787995)

      To be fair, in this case their prison sentences seem to be somewhat proportional to the money they made from the site.

      The site made a total of $505,000 in ads and donations in the approximate 2+ years that it ran.
      Smith received 14 months and made $172,387 (I assume this is the amount he made, because in the case of Dedemko, the amount Dedemko was ordered to pay was the same as the amount he was supposed to have made)
      Hana received 22 months and I believe made $210,000
      Dedemko made $58,004 (and won't get sentenced until Feb)
      And as to the two or three other ninja-pirates, the articles don't really say.

      In the case of the TSA agents, the take was $40,000, but we should assume that they probably split the money between themselves so it's probably more like each got $20,000 and then each was sentenced 6 months of prison (along with 5 years of probation). Now this is not to say that the TSA agents didn't steal a lot more on other days (they probably did). And this is not to say that those TSA agents didn't abuse the special privileges they were given (which in my mind makes it a lot worse). Also, the original $505,000 figure I quoted for the ninja video site is probably misleading as well, since a video site like that will have significant expenses for the hardware they're using and the bandwidth they were consuming each month.

      So I still agree that the TSA agents got off easy compared to the ninja-pirates, but at least in this case, it doesn't seem like the judge just pulled imaginary numbers completely out of thin air. The ninja-pirates did make some real money from their venture (at least two of them did). And unlike a site like Megaupload, they copied and uploaded 100% of the infringing videos themselves.

    • Sold derivatives to customers which they knew had inflated ratings, then shorted against their own product and did no jail time.

    • Re:meanwhile: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Monday January 23, 2012 @02:31AM (#38788713)
      You want to go on that ground? Yeah, let's do that... Let's talk about Goldman Sachs, our 100 cents on the dollar friend Timmy, and all these crooks, who have stolen not thousands, not millions, not even billions, but TRILLIONS from the economy, have put workers out of their house AND jobs AND on food stamps, sometimes with lethal consequences. Let's talk about them, who aren't worried that an investigation would even start, and lets compare to the file sharer sites.

      USA, everyone knows it, is the land of freedom, right? At this point, it's going to be very difficult for the president to have human rights talks with countries like China. USA is not a good example any more, it's one of the worst.
      • USA, everyone knows it, is the land of freedom, right? At this point, it's going to be very difficult for the president to have human rights talks with countries like China. USA is not a good example any more, it's one of the worst.

        Absolutely! Just last week dozens of Occupy protesters were gunned down in a Bloody Sunday-like massacre by the US military, in much the same way as they have been in Egypt, Syria, and Libya! Worst of the worst, America is! Oh, and I heard that families of factory workers are being threatened just so the owners don't have to improve working conditions! Boy, I wish I lived in China where I can access only state sponsored media and speaking against the government gets you "disappeared".

        Your groupthink mental

        • Making a competition of who's the most aggressive state is a total non-sense. That's what you are diving into. No one is entitled to the depravity of others. Yes, US gov. is evil, recognize it and fight it, and stop making a competition to see who's the worst. That was more or less the idea, but you didn't get it this way, it seems. And again, I can state once more: it's going to be very difficult for the president to have human rights talks with countries like China. USA is simply *NOT* in the position of
  • by noh8rz2 (2538714) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:37PM (#38787459)
    I have to say, when I visit a site entitled "ninjavideo.net" I have certain expectations... and those expectations were not met by what I received!
    • I assume you wanted to see videos of actual ninjas instead of some kid running around pretending to be a ninja?
    • in case you didn't know it. ;-)
    • I have to say, when I visit a site entitled "ninjavideo.net" I have certain expectations... and those expectations were not met by what I received!

      I challenge you to try and photograph a ninja, let alone film one in action. UFO's, Bigfoot, and unicorn poop have nothing on these guys ability to never be seen.

  • Meanwhile... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guspasho (941623) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:39PM (#38787475)

    In other news, no one involved in the massive fraud and graft that trashed the world economy has seen the inside of a jail cell.

    Justice is served only to those who can afford it.

    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:06PM (#38787661)

      Incorrect.

      From Politifact

      "The highest-profile convictions we found were from Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, which was a mortgage lending firm based not on Wall Street, but in Ocala, Fla. Its former chairman, Lee B. Farkas, was convicted of directing nearly $3 billion in fraud that put thousands out of work and contributed to the collapse of Colonial Bank. The collapse was the sixth-largest bank collapse in U.S. history. A judge sentenced Farkas to 30 years in prison on June 30, 2011. Several other executives associated with the firm pleaded guilty in related cases. "

      • by decora (1710862) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:25PM (#38787753) Journal

        the fraud perpetrated by Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, etc, in one single day dwarfed by a dozen fold the fraud this mortgage guy perpetrated in his whole career.

        where do you think they sold all those fraudulent mortgages?

        • by mc6809e (214243)

          the fraud perpetrated by Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, etc, in one single day dwarfed by a dozen fold the fraud this mortgage guy perpetrated in his whole career.

          where do you think they sold all those fraudulent mortgages?

          Lehman et al aren't ratings agencies. It was the ratings agencies that vouched for those mortgages. Of course Lehman et al didn't trust those ratings and shorted most of the paper making billions.

          • No. Goldman Sachs (just as a single example, because they're the biggest crooks of them all) has been selling junks KNOWING they were junks. And you know what? They are continuing to do so.
            • by delinear (991444)
              Not only selling junk knowing it was junk but then betting against that junk in the hope that it would fail (when they'd already stacked all the cards in order to achieve this). If I sold a race horse that I'd crippled, pretending all was okay just so that I could then bet against that horse in a race, I'd certainly be in jail for fraud and illegally using my insider knowledge. Meanwhile the banking system continue to award themselves record bonuses, knowing they're untouchable (aside from the odd scapegoat
        • by pieisgood (841871)

          The way I understand it is that they never sold mortgages. They sold insurance (Credit Default Swaps) on the low end or per-packeged mortgage clumps, but unlike an insurance company they didn't have to have the requisite capital to enter these contracts... and when the mortgages went under they had to pay the mortgage holders the losses they took on that mortgage.

          simplified, they gave insurance to banks who sold mortgages on houses... those mortgages went bust and thus they had to pay. But they didn't have

          • CDS are only a part of the fraud. Another is selling derivatives knowing that they were/are junks, because you make money when buying, then reselling them for more expensive, whatever the actual real value of them.
      • by X.25 (255792)

        Incorrect.

        From Politifact...

        Yes, "Taylor, Bean & Whitaker" are the ones who orchestrated and executed the whole thing.

        Are you dumb?

      • Interesting. Usually, I would have expected Farkas to wiggle out with the help of $$ and serve little to no time, which is the case with almost every rich guy. But in this case, it seems that he is still serving time! From Wikipedia:

        Farkas is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Williamsburg, a facility in South Carolina that holds minimum and medium security inmates, and is scheduled for release in 2037

    • by mug funky (910186)

      nope, justice wasn't done to them either - justice would be them in prison too.

      those who can afford it, choose to subvert and pervert it.

    • by SirGeek (120712)

      In other news, no one involved in the massive fraud and graft that trashed the world economy has seen the inside of a jail cell.

      Justice is served only to those who can afford it.

      You mean:

      Justice is served only to those who can not afford it.

  • More Forced Labor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:49PM (#38787555) Homepage
    The United States is a police state. If you faciliate communication in ways not approved by the military-industrial complex (including the media), you will be sent to the gulag for hard labor. When are we going to be liberated?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ihmhi (1206036)

      We possess the means to liberate ourselves. All that is left is to decide which ones we use. The court? The public square? Voting? The rifle?

      • by bky1701 (979071) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:59PM (#38787623) Homepage
        The first three seem to have gotten nowhere so far, with corruption at every level and candidates literally corrupted as part of assuming office.
        • by evilviper (135110)

          The first three seem to have gotten nowhere so far,

          That's exactly what happens when YOU put absolutely no effort in.

          Tell you what, you're good at making big noise on the internet... why don't you lead up the revolution? Grab your gun. We'll all be right behind you, I swear...

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Except that courts, the public square and voting aren't things that the folks with the rifles tend to use for that purpose. There's a correlation between voting for candidates that promise this sort of bad behavior and folks that insist upon owning firearms.

          No implication of causation there, just a correlation worth considering when deciding which boxes are likely to get more thoroughly exercised and in what order.

    • when they are locking up people on bogus Espionage Act charges, you don't seem to care... but take away your ability to get free porn and video games... omg they are worse than hitler.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      In a police state they'd have kicked your door in, clubbed you senseless, hauled you off never to be heard from again. Your family and friends wouldn't even ask about you for fear they'd be next. This site itself, silly as it is, would be taken over and it's management would be also hauled away. I don't like what's going on either but jeez! Get some perspective.

  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @10:58PM (#38787613)

    I am upset that my taxes go to supporting the film industry's copyright policing like this.

    Keeping a person in jail for a year costs between 25-50K not including court costs.

    That's money that can be used for more worthwhile things. What it's being spent on will not result in any changed behavior or profits for the entertainment industry. It only drives things more underground and makes people become more sophisticated. The only people making money from this are the lawyers collecting paychecks and not producing anything of worth for society.

    It's also exposes all the corrupt politicians and the justice system. While they have always been corrupt I would have been happier to live in ignorance than to have it exposed out in the open like this.

    Copyright police? Censorship? The original politicians that started this country are turning over in their graves. This country was started as a backlash to self serving corruption like this.

  • "Authorities"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jginspace (678908) <jginspace@ya3.14hoo.com minus pi> on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:11PM (#38787691) Homepage Journal

    The site operated from February 2008 until authorities shut it down in June 2010.

    Ninjavideo.net [ninjavideo.net] was among the first group [ice.gov] of sites seized by ICE [ice.gov] and their "authority" is questionable.

    Interestingly, ICE have not placed a redirect to their Youtube video yet on any of the Ninja* sites (see TVshack.cc [tvshack.cc] for an example) so presumably the decision to steal/confiscate the site is still being contested by Matthew David Howard Smith or an associate.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I get ICE, technically I'm sure some of those downloads were international. What I really don't get is why the DHS is involved in this at all.

  • by phrostie (121428) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:32PM (#38787785)

    is it just me or are the MPAA and RIAA and other acronyms doing just fine without their SOPA and PIPA?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Same goes for the top 1%, they're doing just fine without their tax cuts. Doesn't stop the whining about how raising taxes on them or failing to renew tax cuts is going to kill American jobs though.

  • Many game developers are fed up with PC piracy and feel they are in a lose-lose situation and they don't want to choose between DRM-laden software or Internet activation... these companies (maker of Crysis comes to mind) vow to develop more heavily for the "console" platforms (XBox, etc.) because piracy is less common there. Of course, if Crysis 3 is console-only, people will probably go the extra mile and modify their boxes and pirate it anyways, but that's beside the point. The point is, game devs (alon
    • by Shikaku (1129753) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @11:42PM (#38787835)

      Many game developers are fed up with PC piracy and feel they are in a lose-lose situation and they don't want to choose between DRM-laden software or Internet activation... these companies (maker of Crysis comes to mind) vow to develop more heavily for the "console" platforms (XBox, etc.) because piracy is less common there. Of course, if Crysis 3 is console-only, people will probably go the extra mile and modify their boxes and pirate it anyways, but that's beside the point. The point is, game devs (along with authors and other artists) have manned up for ages and when piracy becomes an issue for them, they find a solution that doesn't involve hundreds of frivolous lawsuits that is harming everybody with its costs in tying up our legal system.

      I wonder how Steam is... It should be tanking and going out of business with all this piracy...

    • by pgward (2086802)
      I like to think steam is doing a lot to further this cause. They are by no means perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. I personally went from being a heavy user of pirated games to being 100% legit due to the service offered by steam. It is not perfect, but I'll take community, auto-mated maintenance, single point of sale, specials and good service over punk buster and/or downloading cracks any day.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      truth is, all game developers who come up with a really, really good game end up with gobs and gobs of cash.

      just like it was in the c64 days.
      just like it was in the amiga days.
      just like it was in the 486dx with doom is the shit days.

      piracy isn't the real problem for game developers, the "problem" is that they have competition from other game producers.

      doj workers however don't have any other business than prosecuting people of course.

    • The real issue was never piracy it's about dev's having a dumb captive audience that will pay for the same games over and over again. Any devs who whine about piracy when you look at sales numbers of skyrim of Call of duty are idiots.

    • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:15AM (#38789439) Homepage Journal
      I don't see Notch (=> Minecraft [wikipedia.org]) having these issues with so-called piracy. I perfectly understand people who feel ripped off by titles that raise expectations and then disappoint all honest customers.
  • The idea of subjecting one individual who is simply enabling the sharing of data to time in a US prison is an absurd horror. This should be a civil case, not one we as taxpayers pay for, even as we cry out against it. It is an abuse of justice.

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