A landmark legal case involving a music site developer who added a mining widget that mines monero (XMR) to his website will hit the Supreme Court in Japan at the end of the year – with the potential for a legal precedent-setting verdict.
The case dates back to late 2017, when the Yokohama-based man (aged 34) admitted he used a Coinhive-developed app on his websites that led visitors to mine monero. The app distributed 30% of the coins mined to developers and 70% to the site publisher. Police in 2018 claimed that the app and others like it were a “virus,” and exacted a nationwide crackdown on mining-related software. The man was hit with a fine of over USD 900, but he has been fighting the verdict ever since, first taking the case through the district court system, and now to the Supreme Court, Nikkei reported.
The developer has claimed all along that the punishment was not appropriate, that the app was not a “virus” and that he “certainly didn’t think” he was “doing anything illegal by running the program.”
The case has also been to the High Court, but the man will now have his case heard by the Supreme Court of Justice from December 9.
The legal system has been flummoxed by the case, as, Nikkei noted, in the case of cryptoassets, there is “no public institution that manages transactions.”
In 2019, a district court judge ruled that a mining app “could be seen as a source of funds to maintain and improve the quality of the site,” adding that it could even “benefit visitors” and was “not much different from web advertisements.”
Another separate judgment took the police’s side, however, claiming that apps such as these “damages public trust” and are malicious.
But the many judgments on the case thus far have been “divided over the maliciousness” or otherwise of the developer’s actions.
The buck will ultimately stop with the Supreme Court, however. The National Police Agency has warned site operators on its cybercrime website that officers will take “countermeasures” on websites that use mining plugins – commenting “if you install a mining tool without telling visitors in advance, you may be committing a crime.”
But, Nikkei noted, “there have been no noticeable mining-related prosecutions lately,” and “police officials appear to be watching the Supreme Court case” with keen interest.
According to Canon Marketing Japan data, the number of crypto mining software apps in use on websites has actually increased since the beginning of the year as crypto prices have risen.
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