The Yokohama District Court of Japan has acquitted a man accused of hijacking the computing power of visitors to his website and using the power to mine cryptocurrency. According to a report from The Mainichi, the court deemed it "excessive" to punish the unnamed 31-year old website designer, stating that the mining program could not be considered a computer virus.
Per the report, the man was indicted for embedding the Coinhive mining software on his website without explicitly informing visitors that their computing resources would be used to mine cryptocurrency. Used to mine Monero and dubbed a "malvertiser," Coinhive's mining software was maliciously used in September 2017 on two streaming sites – showtime.com and showtimeanytime.com – where it consumed up to 60 percent of the affected user's CPU processing power while mining.
While the report does not state how much Monero the unnamed man was able to mine, or how much processing power was siphoned from visitors' computers, it clearly wasn't enough to make an impact on the court. In handing out the ruling, Judge Toshihiro Homma said the use of Coinhive's software did not constitute a crime as the court could not say the program was "socially unacceptable."
Looking to fine the man 100,000 yen (about $903), prosecutors argued he had been operating the program without first obtaining consent from the visitors who were unaware that their computers were being used, resulting in increased energy usage. While the court did recognize the software likely had an impact on visitors, it was considered minor.
While it's unclear whether the man was actually able to mine any Monero, if he did earn any, he has to move fast to make sure he gets it. In late February, Coinhive announced it would discontinue its mining operation services on March 8. Users have until April 30 to cash out, as long as their total balance is above Coinhive's minimum payout threshold of 0.02 Monero.