COPA launches High Court action against Craig Wright's Bitcoin copyright claims

The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) announced it has filed a lawsuit in the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, to declare that Dr. Craig S. Wright is not the author of the 2008 Bitcoin white paper. But rather than putting a stop to Dr. Wright’s claims as some hope, could it instead give Wright a chance to prove himself as Satoshi in court?

“We stand in support of the Bitcoin developer community and the many others who’ve been threatened for hosting the White Paper,” COPA wrote in a Twitter post earlier.

COPA (sometimes also called the “Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance”) is a non-profit IP-pooling group formed by Jack Dorsey’s Square in September 2020. Its stated aim is to prevent “patent lockup” by companies claiming ownership of key blockchain-related concepts, that “stifle innovation.”

Coinbase joined Square as a COPA founding board member in December 2020. Other members include Kraken, SatoshiLabs, BitPay, BitBank, (Michael Saylor’s) MicroStrategy, and Blockstream. It also includes Paradigm, an investment fund founded by Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.

After joining, COPA members are required to remain members for three years. Joining the alliance entitles a member to access the Shared Patent Library of foundational crypto patents (subject first to the approval of whoever holds the IP on a particular technology).

COPA members like Square, Coinbase and Blockstream have a clear financial interest in promoting the narrative that BTC (and not BSV) represents the “real Bitcoin.” Coinbase is also facing an upcoming IPO, and the intellectual property it owns would play a key role in valuing the company in its prospectus. Coinbase is noting that Dr. Wright’s identity as Satoshi Nakamoto is a key risk to their IPO and valuation. However, they are trying to sweep this under the rug and are hardly mentioning any of the cases. In downplaying this, they are potentially breaching some securities regulations and this could leave the directors of the company liable.

Disassociating the myth of “Satoshi Nakamoto” from the man Craig Wright is central to this narrative, given that Dr. Wright claims BTC Core developers have radically changed the original Bitcoin protocol, and are “spreading false propaganda” about its capabilities and purported limitations. Supporting BTC could potentially end up costing Coinbase billions of dollars, and the company’s entire value may be consumed in subsequent action—which could be why they want to promote the false status of BTC. Coinbase’s SEC filings highlight not only why the company needs BTC to succeed, but also why Satoshi’s identity is a risk to their business and that the IP rights of others and infringement claims against them may hinder their success.

BSV (Bitcoin SV) developers restored the Bitcoin Protocol to its original form and original transaction processing rules in January-February 2020. In this sense, only BSV represents Bitcoin and Bitcoin as it was originally promoted to the public. BTC does not follow the original protocol rules, and is thus not actually Bitcoin. BTC may have the “longest chain” as it often claims, but that chain is not Bitcoin’s.

Background to the copyright claim and reactions

Dr. Wright registered copyright in the U.S. to the 2008 Bitcoin White Paper in May 2019, and, earlier this year, began to take legal action against sites and organizations that host the 2008 Bitcoin white paper without his consent. One of the groups targeted was Square’s blockchain development subsidiary, Square Crypto, which started hosting the white paper in response to cease and desist letters sent by Dr Wright’s lawyers to those sites and organizations.

While the 2019 registration covers the U.S., in the U.K. it’s not necessary to register a copyright—this is automatically granted with the act of creating a work.

Many BTC supporters who reacted to the news suggested it meant Dr. Wright was about to get his comeuppance for those legal threats, and for daring to claim copyright over the Bitcoin white paper in the first place.

Some also repeated the meme that Dr. Wright is doing all this to prevent people from reading the white paper… for some reason. On the contrary, Dr. Wright and BSV supporters would prefer more people to read the white paper, in order to see that BTC does not represent its vision.

What BTC supporters are not noticing (or are deliberately ignoring) is that Dr. Wright’s claim to have authored the Bitcoin white paper is a real one, and that he feels he has enough evidence to defend this claim in court. In fact, it’s highly likely that defending it in court is something he wants to do.

In the years since Dr. Wright was first revealed to be, and then “came out” as, Satoshi Nakamoto, no other person has put forward a credible claim to be Bitcoin’s creator.

As many pointed out when Dr. Wright initially registered his copyright claim, anyone can claim copyright over a piece of writing. The only way it can be officially challenged is if a third party makes the same claim and takes legal action against it.

So in launching its High Court action, COPA may be doing exactly as Dr. Wright wished. It’s worth noting that the definitions listed by COPA in their claim are erroneous and as a result, this introduces the ability to argue what bitcoin truly is and how it was hijacked.

The case may go on for some time, but Dr. Wright will be prepared to fight for as long as it takes.

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