Staking Claim on Bitcoin — Does Craig Wright’s Copyright Filing Hold Legal Merit?
Simon Chandler's original article for cointelegraph.com reduced by 45%
While explanations for sudden market shifts are often hard to come by in the cryptocurrency industry, some within the media pinned BSV's abrupt climb on the news that nChain founder Craig Wright had filed a copyright registration for the original bitcoin white paper with the United States Copyright Office. Wright has filed two copyright claims with the U.S. Copyright Office, with the office officially registering both of these in early April.
"U.S. copyright registration no. TX-8-708-058, effective date April 13, 2019, for computer program entitled bitcoin, with year of completion 2009 and date of first publication January 3, 2009.
The registration recognizes the author as Craig Steven Wright, using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright wrote most of version 0.1 of the bitcoin client software, and the registration covers the portions he authored." "As a general rule, when the Copyright Office receives an application for registration, the claimant certifies as to the truth of the statements made in the submitted materials. The Copyright Office does not investigate the truth of any statement made." The nChain press release did state that the Copyright Office registered the claim "After receiving confirmation from Wright that he is Satoshi Nakamoto." That said, the office's press release makes it clear that it simply asked him to confirm for a second time that he was indeed claiming to be "The author and claimant of the works being registered." So, there's no indication whatsoever that Wright actually shared proof of Nakamoto's real identity with the office, potentially contradicting the nChain press release.
The difficulties in suing on the basis of copyright claims don't end there for Wright, who stated in his press release that he has been "Dismayed to see his original bitcoin design bastardized by protocol developer groups - first by Bitcoin Core in 2017 and then again by bitcoin cash developers in 2018." Likewise, a representative for Wright told Bloomberg that "He will seek to stop the cryptocurrency community from referring to the original token as bitcoin because it doesn't currently possess the attributes described in the research paper." However, it's not at all clear how he might hope to achieve those goals via the legal mechanism of a copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office states in its May 22 press release that it "Does not have an opposition procedure for copyright registrations, such as the procedures available at the Patent and Trademark Office for patents and trademark registrations." And make no mistake, copyright is not the same thing as a trademark, which, as the Copyright Alliance explained, differs from a copyright in that "It's a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others." By contrast, copyright covers "The right to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies," and so on.
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