So say I am writing an open source program, or any program really, and I embed a Bitcoin miner in the code, so that when people run my program, they would be earning Bitcoins for me.

Would this be legal?

Would I get sued for doing this?

The reason why this is important is because I love free and open source software, the only problem being that this doesn't pay the bills. I fully intend to at least inform the users of my program that there is a Bitcoin miner embedded in the program, if not also make a non-miner version available.

  • Part of me wants to slap you in the face for this idea, the other part of me want's to come over and shake your hand for the idea. AND for asking versus just doing it. I guess if you would program your own miner you could... I believe all miners available are GPL. But then there's the morals. Plus the fact that most countries are watching bitcoins closely. And if you have a large number of bot miners, some pools ban you for the botnet... So I'm not going to give an official answer. Morality and legality are now always one and the same. Is it worth possibly having the scorn of BTC against you?
    – Joe White
    Oct 20, 2013 at 5:17

4 Answers 4


Well, lets look at the outcomes for the user:

  • your user burns hundreds of times their normal power usage mining, thousands of dollars of their money goes into their power bill
  • your user potentially ruins their hardware (Mac hardware will die, there's no question of that)
  • your users computer becomes sluggish and unresponsive
  • their virus protection removes the miner, as they're almost always marked as malware

The outcomes for you:

  • you make a couple of cents a day
  • you look like a complete dirtbag to your users

Doesn't seem worthwhile to me. Just ask them for donations if you really think your software deserves financing.


If you are informing users about this in a user agreement, then this is legal (but I am not a layer). Another thing is that most of the users are not reading what is written in the agreement and just assume that everything is ok. Read this as an example. So if later they figure out that they were screwed up they most probably will be really mad.

Another thing is that you will gain absolutely nothing, except of bad reputation. Most probably no one would use your software because there will be tons of other apps which are doing completely the same without using 98% of CPU or GPU.

When I told that you will get absolutely nothing - this is because with a current hash rate, there is no point of mining with CPU or GPU.

If you think that your software would be so cool, that millions of user would use it - just ask for donation and you will get much more from people who would be happy to give you money.

  • 1
    Link down..............
    – Pacerier
    Nov 25, 2013 at 17:13

The problem is that it would be a very inefficient way for users to pay you; sort of a very indirect way of paying your electricity bill. With a lot of bandwidth consumed to manage your bot farm.

Micro-transactions would work better.


Sounds pretty shady to me. There have been some malware schemes that do this, though usually users are not being informed on what's going on.

If you do decide to do this, make sure you clearly tell people what you are doing. Don't bury this in the bottom of some user agreement or something.

You'd probably protect your reputation by offering a program without the embedded Bitcoin miner. But why would any user choose to download the Bitcoin embedded miner?

In general, taking over the GPU and processes of another user for your own benefit seems ethically questionable.

Now something that might improve your reputation would be to offer to donate the mined Bitcoins to a charity of your choice. This way, people who download the program will know that you are just trying to help out.

As long as you inform the user of what you are doing, however, and they agree to it, there shouldn't be any legal implications.

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