Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. Some decentralized live-streaming sites try to get their “gas” that way, but they either fall into cryptojacking or are forced to adopt other strategies. Is it possible to integrate mining and streaming so that the combination profits both the company and its users, or are they two irrevocably seperate functions?
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1. How regular mining works
Standard cryptocurrency mining works via a powerful computer system that runs crypto software (the software is free) for as long and as often as you can. The computer system is called a “node,” and it is one of many nodes on the blockchain network that help send transactions around the cryptocurrency network.
Mining nodes group outstanding transactions into blocks and add them to the blockchain. The process is done by solving complex mathematical equations that verify the accuracy of these transactions. Blocks are solved every ten minutes with the victorious miner receiving the 12.5 bitcoins, currently worth almost $200,000.
Crypto mining is notoriously unprofitable since you need extremely powerful processors and hundreds of thousands of megawatts of electricity in order to compete against the horde of other miners on your network.
For this reason, some individuals have resorted to cryptojacking where they stealthily use someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency.
In 2016, security researcher Troy Mursch, of the blog Bad Packets Report, detected 30,000 websites with CoinHive’s software running in the background, slowing down computers and using huge amounts of electricity. In May 2018, Mursch reported that a cryptojacking campaign hit over 300 websites, including those of the San Diego Zoo and the government of Chihuahua, Mexico. One month later, Mursch added that more than 100,000 websites were vulnerable to this malware. A 2017 report by the ad blocking company AdGuard cited data from CoinHive Stratum Proxy that showed CoinHive was downloaded about 2,500 times a day. In contrast, jQuery (one of the most popular libraries that is used for more than 70% of the sites on the web) has only around 100,000 downloads per day. AdGuard also found that infected sites included CBS Showtime, UFC live-streams, and official websites for the governments of Moldova and Bangladesh.
According to both Rick Holland, of UK cyber security firm Digital Shadows, and the security researchers at Malwarebytes, cryptojacking is the number one malware trend for 2018. Even CoinHive reluctantly admitted its plug-in had evolved into a malicious force. “We cannot deny the opinion of a user that ‘we invented a whole new breed of malware’,” CoinHive told the Suddeutsche Zeitung, “We are not proud of it.”
Today, variants of CoinHive appear on the Google Playstore, and hackers have programmed the plugin to keep running even after a user closes the offending tab.
3. Live streaming and mining
A 2017 AdGuard report announced that several popular streaming websites were secretly using user devices for cryptocurrency mining. In each case, users were unaware that hidden mining was built into these players. Four of these sites were Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo, and OnlineVideoConverter.com. Another, the famed torrent streaming site The Pirate Bay, has bitcoin miners on its homepage too, their reasoning being that its website replaces annoying ads with stealthy mining to pay their bills.
Regular live-streaming platforms (no mining system)
If you think that live-streaming platforms need some sort of cryptojacking method to rake in money (to afford their “gas” or to provide artists with income), the following are some of the many live-streaming websites that exist without a mining system altogether:
The decentralized music platform, Opus, offers artists a chance to earn a living without giving up as much as 80% of their income to centralized platforms like Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, and several others. The Opus system, which incorporates four-layer technology, has a global ledger with all of the music that has ever been uploaded. This layer of music is accessible anytime, anywhere, and songs that have been purchased are always available for listening or downloading.
The system is completely transparent, and all transactions are forever available for public viewing on the Ethereum blockchain.
Ujo Music is an Ethereum-based, ConsenSys-backed music software service company that aims to make transactions transparent, level the music playing field, and help artists pocket more of their income. Still in the beta stage, UjoMusic uses smart contracts and Ether to digitize music rights and metadata, and to share records in a democratic and open environment, subsequently helping artists license their products and get their pay with minimal friction.
The only decentralized live-streaming platform that seems able to effectively integrate streaming and mining while maintaining balance is Choon.
This blockchain music streaming service distributes its payment in an ERC-20 token called NOTES through its customizable smart contracts, with artists and other parties being paid for their streams by the end of each day. Artists use NOTES to promote tracks, tap into promotional platforms, as well as sample and license tracks, among other ways to get revenue from their music. Listeners use NOTES for platform activities such as downloads, private concerts, chats with artists, as well as the sale of non-digital items.
Unlike the standard music streaming platforms that are notorious for their dismal payout, Choon gives its artists as much as 80% of the advertising and subscription revenue, along with a whopping 100% of the mining reward — a step up from similar services like Spotify, who pay disturbingly low fees (some musicians have estimated it’s as low as $0.004891 per stream).
The Choon blockchain also gives artists, stakeholders, and fans the transparency and accountability that is so lacking in the traditional streaming industry.
Choon uses a system called “streaming as mining,” where it promises to distribute half of the total overall NOTES token supply directly to artists over the next ten years, plus an ambitious 80% return for artists from streaming revenues and advertising revenue.
Choon’s mining is done the following way:
- There will be a total supply of two billion NOTES, with one billion distributed to artists over 10 years. The distribution will be based on listener data about the most popular artists of the day. 375,000 NOTES per day will be distributed for the first five years, with the remainder disbursed over the last five years. After this, the rate will continue decreasing until all remaining tokens are distributed over a period of five years.
- NOTES are released (or mined) through Choon’s customizable “Smart Record Contracts” as fans stream music. These smart contracts also store copyright credentials on the Ethereum blockchain.
- Choon also gives 80 percent of THE income directly to musicians. All income comes from the proceeds of listeners, so if listeners pay $5 for a monthly subscription, 80% ($4) of it will go directly to the artist, while Choon gets the rest as compensation for providing the services.
- The tokens are programmed to be distributed (according to how many times a track has been streamed) directly into an artist’s wallet.
- Choon is entirely transparent, publishing daily totals of stream numbers and NOTES.
Choon seems to be the one decentralized live-streaming site that is able to effectively integrate streaming and mining. They’ve fused it into an open system where both the company and users profit, as the musicians and fans mine for their own particular needs.
With the exception of Choon, no other decentralized live-streaming site has been able to successfully combine mining and live streaming. Those that do are condemned to cryptojacking, while others, like Opus and UjoMusic, get their “gas” in other ways. The only decentralized live-streaming site that seems to successfully combine streaming and mining in a transparent and applauded way is Choon. This live-streaming blockchain uses its mining to benefit users and itself while making its mining activities transparent.
About the author:
Kirill Shilov — Founder of Geekforge.io and Howtotoken.com. Interviewing the top 10,000 worldwide experts who reveal the biggest issues on the way to technological singularity. Join my #10kqachallenge: GeekForge Formula.