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I Fought the Law

I Fought the Law

NinjaVideo ‘Queen’, a 29-Year-Old NYU Grad, Sentenced to 22 Months for Running Popular Pirated Video Site

Ms. Beshara via Facebook

Under the moniker “Queen Phara,” Hana Amal Beshara became known to her followers as the public face of the highly-popular pirated TV and movie site NinjaVideo.net, which she co-founded back in 2008. Along with the App Store and Twitter, PC World named the site (motto: “This shit is Ninja”) one of the top products of 2009.

Ms. Bahara, who grew up in Brooklyn and New Jersey to strict Egyptian- born parents, had an unlikely resume for the job: She was valedictorian of her high school class and studied political science at NYU. Before graduating in 2003, she interned at the Clinton Foundation and the East West Institute in Prague.

On Friday, Ms. Bahara was sentenced to 22-months in prison after pleading guilty in September to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Three of her co-defendants also plead guilty, and are awaiting sentencing. A Virginia judge ordered Ms. Beshara, who was identified as a resident of North Brunswick, New Jersey, to serve two years of supervised release, complete 500 hours of community service, forfeit financial accounts related to NinjaVideo and repay $209,826.95 that she personally obtained. The checks are supposed to go directly to the Motion Picture Association of America. Read More

I Fought the Law

New York Judge Breaks Precedent, Says 4th Amendment Protects Cellphone Location Data

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Anyone who’s heard Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia try to figure out text messaging (“I thought, you know, you push a button; it goes right to the other thing” is an actual quote) probably has an inkling of how hard it is to reconcile the law with constantly-evolving technologies. Over the past few years, one particular issue has plagued the courts: Does the government need a warrant to access a cellphone user’s location records?

While some courts ruled that the mere act of turning on one’s cellphone implies that they’re “voluntarily” transmitting their location to their cellphone provider and waiving the expectation of privacy, Ars Technica reports that in the Eastern District of New York, Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued a 22-opinion yesterday saying otherwise. Read More

I Fought the Law

How Will Closing the ‘Carried Interest’ and ‘Founder’s Stock’ Loopholes Affect New York Tech?

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One, two, the White House’s coming for you. While you were busy counting the days until Foursquare’s IPO, the good folks of Washington have been fretting over the debt crisis. Mayhap you’ve heard of it? Well, techies better start paying attention because it looks like it could hit close to home.

At issue are two tax loopholes, “carried interest” and “founder’s stock.” President Obama wants to close “carried interest” tax, estimating that it could raise $20 billion over the next decade.  Congressional Republicans refuse. In The New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff says “carried interest” wins the grand prize for “Most Unconscionable Tax Loophole,” adding, “This loophole has nothing to do with creating jobs and everything to do with protecting some of America’s wealthiest financiers.” While he’s at it, he’d like to do away with the loophole for founder’s stock too.

NetNet’s John Carney has a very different take on founder’s stock, writing, “It’s not some unique bizarre scandalous loophole in the tax code. It actually coheres quite well with the way we tax a lot of other returns on entrepreneurial activity.”

Considering Union Square Ventures’ stake in Zynga’s upcoming IPO and the number of New York start-ups counting down to their S-1 filing, here’s what you need to know. Read More