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NinjaVideo 'queen' gets 22 months in jail


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NinjaVideo "queen" gets 22 months in jail, owes $200,000 to Hollywood

By Nate Anderson | Published January 6, 2012 3:29 PM


Hana Beshara on September 9, 2011

NinjaVideo.net's "queen" is going to jail—and paying the MPAA over $200,000.

A federal judge today sentenced Hana Amal "Queen Phara" Beshara to 22 months in a West Virginia prison and enrolled her (at her request) in a drug rehab program there. Beshara was the public face of NinjaVideo, a major US-based movie download site trafficking in hot Hollywood movies, sometimes before they were released.

Beshara, now 29, had her condo raided in 2010 by the feds, who seized her gear and eventually charged her with criminal copyright infringement. Last year, Beshara issued a YouTube video to the NinjaVideo community in which she suggested that she hadn't known her actions were wrong. "We weave and we bob through these grey areas of laws not yet written," she said.

But after pleading guilty, she changed her tune. Her plea agreement with the government admits that she said, "we are extremely illegal" during an Internet chat and later that "my best work… is my illegal website moderation and uploading."

My mind on my money

The site managed to rake in $505,000 between 2008 and 2010, and money was on the mind of people like Beshara. "You're so helpless when you're limited to so few ad companies to choose from being a pirate site," she complained in an online chat. And when it came to DMCA takedowns, she admitted that NinjaVideo would "leave some content specifically listed in the DMCA takedown notices on the NinjaVideo.net website, based primarily on the volume of user hits/requests and the amount of revenue."

Beshara personally received $260,246 over the course of the site's existence, but she paid $50,420 to other NinjaVideo workers. The remaining $209,826.95 went into accounts at TD Ameritrade, Chase, and Paypal—all of which are now forfeit. The government will also keep her Seagate external hard drives, three laptops, an iPod touch, a Motorola Droid, 11 DVDs, and $1,000 cash seized during the raid on her home.


Where the money goes

Beshara was ordered to repay the full amount of money, but not to the government—checks are to go straight to the Motion Picture Association of America. Beshara's lawyer says that she has no cash left, however.

"This restitution amount should not obscure the fact that Ms. Beshara did not make a lot of money from her participation in NinjaVideo," her attorney wrote to the court. "She was only able to support herself through her position at NinjaVideo during the final 6 months of its operation. For most of her time at NinjaVideo, she also worked as a dentist's receptionist, earning $1,100 to $1,200 a month."

He also noted that Beshara was an "emotional and high strung woman" who "used up many Kleenexes crying in counsel's office, at the arraignment and afterwards."

Character reference

A letter on her character arrived from her brother, an Air Force captain. "Watching my mom and dad cry every day during Christmas break is heart wrenching and they question whether it was their fault that Hana got caught up in all this," he wrote.

"We understand that Hana has made mistakes and must pay your debt, but we do ask for leniency since she is a significant part of our very small family. Since all of this has unraveled our family has been torn apart emotionally and we all eagerly look forward to putting this behind us and helping Hana get back on her feet."

Her best friend also wrote a letter about meeting Beshara through the NinjaVideo.net forums. "I attended a Church retreat with her and her parents in July 2011," runs the letter. "I find her the most considerate friend that I have… I even got a tattoo of her favorite flower because I truly know that she is someone I will keep in touch with always.”

The judge did provide a more lenient sentence than called for in sentencing guidelines, but it was more than Beshara requested. For the next 22 months, she will call a federal prison her home. When she emerges on probation, she will have to pay a minimum of $150 per month toward her restitution.

After that, who knows? Her brother notes that she was valedictorian of her high school class and holds a degree from NYU. Recently, he says, she's been talking about "turning her life around" and heading off to graduate school when she leaves prison.


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so nice that eric holder and this jack azz admin can find copyright holders but not terrorist. vote these bastd out 2012. come on

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To be honest I think this is one of the more fair verdicts I've seen in copyright-related trials.

Criminal copyright infringement means actually earning money from infringing on others rights, as opposed to just copyright infringement.

She has to pay back the money she earned with the sites operations (minus the amount paid to others, minus the amount already seized). The jail time serves as a deterrent to others (it would be stupid to only have to pay back the money earned, that would mean that either you don't get caught and make a huge profit, or you do get caught and end up in square one; not much of a deterrent).

Of course it's still live-wrecking and stuff like that is never nice, but making money from copyright infringement isn't right either if you ask me ;)

Edit: Split this topic from from this topic ;)

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