Crypto-mining becomes new revenue source for music pirates

The Performing Rights Society’s event PRS Explores: Emerging Piracy Trends has heard that cryptocurrency mining is becoming an increasingly popular money maker among music pirates.

Helen Saunders – Head of Operations and Intelligence at Intellectual Property and Tech Analysts Incopro – told the event, held in London, that from the database of 13,000 copyright infringement sites that it holds, her company believes that at least “200 of those are actively crypto-mining currencies as you’re browsing them.”

Such activities are part of a growing trend among pirates, that has seen them move away from traditional advertising and move into crypto as a way of bolstering their revenues. It reflects a growing number of so-called ‘crypto-jacking’ incidents across the board that have mirrored the rising value of the currency they bag the perpetrators, and the increased availability of the necessary software.

Sure, adverts are one way of funding these sites,” Saunders continued, “but how many of you get really annoyed by the number of adverts you see? How many of you use ad blockers? If pirates see a revenue stream cut off, they’ll find another way to do it – that’s the nature of criminality online.

“With coin mining, you might not even know it’s happening. You might just be wondering why your computer has suddenly got really slow – it’s because someone is making lots of money out of your computer churning away, doing lots of calculations in the background.”

Detective Constable Steven Salway of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) also spoke at the event, saying his unit are “monitoring” the use of such mining software among online pirates. He suggested one method of tackling things would be to approach the mining software creators, who may not necessarily be aware their products are being abused.

“We can give them guidelines, including the implications of working with certain sites under the Computer Misuse Act and further offences with online crime and money laundering” he said.

M Magazine