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Another Ninjavideo.net founder pleads guilty

The 28-year-old faces up to five years in prison on a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement charge

A co-founder of NinjaVideo.net has pleaded guilty to a copyright infringement charge, joining two other founders who pled guilty to charges in September.

Justin Dedemko, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The U.S. Department of Justice charged Dedemko and fellow NinjaVideo.net officers with distributing infringing copies of movies and television programs to millions of visitors to the site.

Dedemko faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24.

Co-founders Matthew David Howard Smith and Hana Amal Beshara pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement.

Dedemko was responsible for locating infringing content on the Internet and uploading the infringing content to servers used by NinjaVideo.net, the DOJ said in a press release. Later during NinjaVideo's operation, Dedemko focused on marketing, including conversations with companies interested in placing advertisements on the website, the DOJ said.

NinjaVideo operated from February 2008 until it was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010

In September, a grand jury in Virginia indicted five people who worked at the website, including Smith and Beshara. Dedemko was not one of the original five indicted, but prosecutors filed charges against him on Thursday.

NinjaVideo generated US$505,000 in income from Internet advertising and visitor donations during its operation, the DOJ said. Dedemko received $58,004 of these funds, and agreed to pay restitution in that amount, the agency said.

In addition to Smith and Beshara, Joshua David Evans, who served as one of NinjaVideo's main uploaders, pleaded guilty on Oct. 25 to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Jeremy Lynn Andrew, who served as head of security for NinjaVideo.net, also pleaded guilty on the same day to conspiracy.

Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for the last remaining indicted co-conspirator, Zoi Mertzanis of Greece, who also allegedly served as one of the website's main uploaders.

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 [email protected]


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