NinjaVideo founder pleads guilty

Smith faces five years for conspiracy, copyright infringement

A founder of the NinjaVideo website plead guilty on Friday for his role in offering pirated downloads of movies and television shows.

Matthew David Howard Smith, 23, of Raleigh, N.C., plead guilty in a federal court in Virginia to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16, and he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count.

NinjaVideo operated from February 2008, until it was shut down by law enforcement in June 2010 as part of the government’s Operation in Our Sites crackdown.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which conducted the investigation in conjunction with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, Smith admitted that he designed many of the operational elements of the website, in which movies still playing in theaters and some not yet released were among those offered.

Smith also admitted that he made agreements with advertising entities to generate income for the site. He and his associates collected about $500,000 while they were in business.

Four other suspects were indicted earlier this month along with Smith, and are scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 6.