Copyright Law

Post-Sentencing Facebook Comments Put NinjaVideo 'Phara' On Fast Track to Prison Cell

The woman known as the “Phara” of a now-defunct movie downloading site apparently made two crucial miscalculations when she was sentenced earlier this month in a criminal copyright-infringement case.

First, Hana Beshara posted about her 22-month prison term on a Facebook account for NinjaVideo and elsewhere, in a manner that arguably celebrated her own criminal conduct. Second, she may not have have realized that some government lawyers work weekends, recounts Ars Technica’s Law & Disorder blog.

On Friday, Jan. 6, Beshara was sentenced to prison and ordered to make restitution of $200,000 to the Motion Picture Association of America by a federal judge in Alexandria. On Monday, Jan. 9, prosecutors filed a motion asking the judge to take her into custody immediately, rather than give her a few weeks to get her affairs in order as previously planned.

Among the written material to which they pointed in support of their claim that Beshara’s posting reflected “a clear lack of remorse over her illegal conduct” was her comment that “I never snitched, I never left NinjaVideo, and I will always be proud of this incredible world we built, this community that touched millions. I hold my head high. Always.”

Beshara’s lawyer argued that she was just blowing off steam and chatting with her online friends in a manner protected by the First Amendment, and Beshara wrote an apologetic letter to Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia. But at a Jan. 13 hearing, she was immediately taken into custody by U.S. marshals to begin serving her sentence.

A Facebook page shows that her supporters haven’t given up hope that she will be freed before serving her full sentence. Meanwhile, a number are planning to participate in an online protest tomorrow of legislation seeking to make it more difficult for infringers to pirate copyrighted content.

Prosecutors didn’t respond to a request for comment by Law & Disorder.

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