Much more than Dr. Wright’s personal reputation is at stake. Although he is often portrayed in the “cryptocurrency” industry and in the mainstream media as “the man who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin”, it is important to remember that it was never Wright who made these claims initially. He was denounced by two news outlets in late 2015 and has been the subject of relentless attacks by agencies and government groups trying to exert control over Bitcoin since his name and face became known.
These groups understand that if the legendary “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a real and identifiable person, it threatens their control over the protocol and ideological direction of Bitcoin. The real Satoshi Nakamoto also has a valid IP claim on the Bitcoin transaction database since 2009, and Dr. Wright himself holds a collection of important patents covering many aspects of blockchain technology. Therefore, the continuing legal attacks with the coordinated online social engineering campaign are nothing more than attempts to discredit his character and potentially bankrupt him, stealing his intellectual property and thus regaining control of Bitcoin to serve his own purposes.
Dr. Wright had no choice but to respond to these attacks, which initially meant admitting that he was indeed Satoshi Nakamoto and that Bitcoin’s governance had been corrupted. Proving your claim to be Satoshi is now the key to Bitcoin’s future, regardless of whether people agree with the tactic or not.
The next installment is likely a case between Dr. Wright and Norwegian Twitter influencer / troll Magnus Granath, aka Hodlonaut. That action was initiated by Granath, with the aim of obtaining a “negative statement” to help settle a separate UK libel lawsuit brought by Wright. However, in a historic decision, the English Court of Appeal ruled that the two cases were sufficiently distinct for both to proceed.
McCormack’s recent libel decision could affect Granath / Hodlonaut cases in both jurisdictions. A British judge ruled that McCormack, in fact, defamed Dr. Wright, but he also noted several instances where he found the evidence supporting Wright questionable. The result was a ruling in Wright’s favor, but only £ 1 in damages.
Dr Wright’s supporters and enemy camps both claimed this result as a victory, though neither felt it was the killing blow that would silence the other side. Furthermore, the result will likely be used by both sides in Granath’s case to influence the decision.
Satoshi’s long and winding legal road
A series of civil lawsuits involving Dr. Wright has sucked much of the oxygen into the Bitcoin / blockchain space. He was both the plaintiff and the defendant in these cases, which means that many would have happened anyway, whether he chose to be involved or not.
In particular, in the two most important cases – the case of Ira Kleiman and the copyright dispute of COPA – Dr. Wright was the defendant. These two cases are also the ones that would do more to prove Wright the original creator of Bitcoin: in the latter case, his opponents are looking for a positive statement that Dr. Wright is not the author of the white paper, which is what the UK courts have already accepted. In the first case, both sides agreed that Dr. Wright was Satoshi Nakamoto: the question was whether he owed some Satoshi coins to someone else. Dr. Wright also won there.
Cases that could prove, or could have proved, Dr. Wright’s claim to be Bitcoin’s “Satoshi Nakamoto” include:
– Ira Kleiman’s failed attempt to acquire billions of dollars of early Bitcoins. This jury trial in the United States (Florida) was a significant win for Dr. Wright – the jury spent two weeks listening to evidence (from both sides) that placed Dr. Wright in the creation of Bitcoin, but was not convinced that no one else was involved, as Kleiman had claimed. The case also included a tangential intellectual property issue involving Kleiman’s “co-defendant” W&K Info Defense Research LLC going against Wright. However, the question of W&K’s ownership and shareholders, and whether the company should have been involved in the case, is still unresolved. Kleiman’s lawyers had previously failed in an attempt to restart the whole process and have since been asking for an appeal.
– Dr. Wright’s lawsuit against developer “Cobra”, in which he tried to enforce his copyrights as the author of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper against the operator of BTC’s bitcoin.org site, which hosted the document without permission, another ruling by Dr. Wright in favor, but for lack of judgment.
– Dr. Wright’s libel action against McCormack, in which the judge ruled in Wright’s favor but awarded only £ 1 in damages. McCormack had previously been sentenced to pay more than £ 100,000 to cover Wright’s legal fees in association with the former’s failed attempt to delay the case and his abandonment and attempt to revive his defense of the truth (which Dr. Wright does not was probably Satoshi Nakamoto). McCormack had abandoned this defense after the parties had exchanged evidence in the case, making sure the issue would not be raised at trial.
– Two cases involving Twitter troll Magnus Granath / Hodlonaut and Dr. Wright. One of these is the impending case in Norway, which Granath initiated to get a “negative statement” that he did not slander Dr Wright calling him a Twitter fraud, in an attempt to prevent Dr Wright’s separate action in the UK. However, the judges ruled that both cases should proceed. This case was complicated by summary decisions and appeals, including a failed attempt by Granath to have the case closed in the UK, resulting in an injunction to pay Wright £ 303,000 in legal fees.
– A Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) lawsuit against Dr. Wright, questioning Dr. Wright’s authorship of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper. This case is the current “big case” that observers hope will solve the case. question of Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity in one way or another. It also involves several Silicon Valley big names as COPA includes Jack Dorsey’s Block / Square (NASDAQ: SQ), Meta (NASDAQ: META) (formerly Facebook), Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), Kraken, Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR ) and Blockstream (inventors of the Lightning centralized network) as members. The COPA case will not be tried until at least early 2024.
All of these cases also involved various procedural challenges, summary judgments, arguments on evidence and jurisdiction, formal statements and collateral issues. Each of these was widely reported in the media of the “crypto” technology industry and thus clouded the narrative. Casual observers and voice commentators have often confused summary judgments for final verdicts, opinions for orders, and differences between civil and criminal law (for the record, none of these cases are criminal proceedings).
Each of these cases was supposed to help resolve the Satoshi issue for everyone, but so far this has not been the case, with both sides claiming wins every time. They avoided the opportunity for Dr. Wright to present overwhelming evidence to support his claim that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, and the judges warned that Satoshi’s identity was not the issue at stake.
Until such evidence exists, submitted under oath and accepted by non-Bitcoin observers, Wright’s Satoshi identity will forever be open to challenges and accusations. While it’s not all related to BSV’s technology and designs in the BSV ecosystem, there is an impact.
What does all this mean for the BSV ecosystem?
Many of those who work daily to create startups in the BSV ecosystem would prefer to focus on the benefits that Bitcoin could bring to the digital economy. They would rather not face constant online trolling, misinformed opinion and coordinated disinformation campaigns. The conversation should be about technology, streamlining processes, expanding the user base, profits, and ultimately a more useful and safer digital economy for all.
Fortunately, the decision makers that matter most aren’t anonymous Twitter accounts. They are groups like IEEE and IPv6 Forum, who know about networks and are curious to know more about what Bitcoin can do. It is business users and government departments who realize that the world needs a more secure and verifiable way to process and store data than the internet we have now. These decision makers are far more influential than casual social commentators, and this is reflected in Dr. Wright’s invitations to present his ideas to technical bodies and their conferences.
If ongoing legal actions are the price of ensuring these ideas are heard, then everyone should agree that they are necessary despite the occasional frustration.
Like blockchain technology itself, we’d prefer BSV’s legal issues to be “like plumbing,” something that is necessary, but also vanishes into the walls and isn’t the main topic of discussion. Instead, in this sense, BSV often feels like the Pompidou Center of the blockchain. Newcomers looking for the superior technology of the original Bitcoin are faced with an external wall of complications that dominates the conversation about it and through which they have to go to see what the creative people inside are doing.
The broader blockchain industry is locked in a gigantic format war to win the hearts and minds of governments and corporate users, whose decisions will ultimately decide which (or if any) chain becomes the universal source of truth of the world. Despite claims that the world economy can accept various competing platforms running on different blockchains, most of them (including Bitcoin) would only reach their true potential if they were used and trusted by all.
How to process and store data for centuries into the future is a highly technical question that even those decision makers have a hard time fully understanding. So, for better or for worse, decisions can be made about the outcomes of judicial processes and political emotions rather than about technology.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek Bitcoin for beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin, as originally intended by Satoshi Nakamoto, and blockchain.