Craig Wright, the British computer scientist who claims to have created bitcoin, says a victory in the UK High Court over the copyright of the cryptocurrency’s original white paper is a “critical step” in his bid for recognition.
More than a decade ago, a white paper was published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto which outlined the first specification and proof of concept for bitcoin. Nakamoto vanished several years later, until Wright appeared to lay claim to the moniker in 2016.
The identity of Nakamoto remains highly disputed, as does Wright’s role at the centre of several lawsuits related to bitcoin.
A 28 June battle in London courts between Wright and the anonymous operator of the website bitcoin.org, known as Cobra, focused on Wright’s claim that Cobra’s hosting of the bitcoin white paper on their website amounted to copyright infringement.
The case’s conclusion resulted in a default judgment in Wright’s favour, after Cobra and a representative chose to remain anonymous and not to present an oral defence.
“What is interesting for me about Monday’s court hearing is that @CobraBitcoin didn’t even attempt to submit papers to confirm their comments about me or back up their past assertions that I am not Satoshi,” Wright told Financial News in written comments, referring to Cobra’s username on Twitter.
“By default therefore my claim that they have been infringing my copyright was upheld.”
Cobra was ordered to remove the white paper from being accessed in the UK via bitcoin.org, and publish a copy of the court’s order on the website for the next six months.
In statements posted on Twitter after the hearing concluded, Cobra said the outcome represented “a system where ‘justice’ depends on who’s got the bigger wallet”.
“I don’t think you could get a better advertisement of why Bitcoin is necessary than what happened today,” they wrote. “Rules enforced through cryptography are far more superior than rules based on whoever can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in court.”
A separate case to challenge Wright’s claim in the High Court system is ongoing, led by Copa, a non-profit organisation with large corporate members including Coinbase, Square, Kraken and MicroStrategy.
Wright told Financial News that the lawsuits provide an opportunity for him to publicly present his “overall mission to educate governments, regulators and investors” that bitcoin’s current status as a favoured investment for digitally-inclined traders is not true to his “original vision”.
“I will continue to take action where developers of alternative assets promote or misrepresent those assets as being Bitcoin when they do not align with what I set out in my white paper,” he added.
“I am determined to shine a light on a world where I feel my original concept has been distorted and hijacked by people with different ends and interests.”
As part of the default judgment, Cobra was also ordered to make an interim payment of £35,000 to cover Wright’s cost of the proceedings.
Cobra said that they would be happy to pay Wright’s costs in bitcoin, transferring it to the digital wallet address associated with Nakamoto’s creation of one of bitcoin’s earliest blocks.
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