Dr. Craig Wright’s recent decision to enforce his copyright claim to the Bitcoin White Paper may have come as a surprise to Bitcoin.org, Bitcoincore.org and Bitcoin.com, but it shouldn’t have. A sober look at everything that has taken place since Dr. Wright revealed himself as Satoshi Nakamoto shows that the Bitcoin story was always headed here—and that this is just the beginning.
Since being outed in 2015, Dr. Wright has never changed track as to the ownership of the White Paper and of the Bitcoin described within it. He is the creator of both: therefore, copyright in the works rests with him. His behavior reflects this: in 2019, he filed copyright registrations for both the White Paper and the original Bitcoin source code. A lengthy blog post written by Dr. Wright at the start of 2020 contains an in-depth analysis of his ownership over Bitcoin, and the extent to which that ownership has been violated by the many so-called ‘forks’ of the original protocol which still falsely use the Bitcoin name.
He also told CoinGeek recently: “BTC didn’t want to go out and make a new sort of cryptocurrency or alternative to Bitcoin. What they wanted to do was ride on the coattails of Bitcoin, yet change all of my original messaging. So, in effect, what they’re doing is fraudulently telling the world that they are Bitcoin.”
“I was incredibly clear in 2010 when I said I had reasons that Bitcoin could never be forked, when it was set in stone. I said it was not merely a desire that it not be forked, I said it was imperative for the system. That’s part of the rewriting of the history and narrative of Bitcoin that has taken place.”
So, the letters recently sent to a number of companies and individuals should be a surprise to no one. In fact, looking at the scale of the infringement—all of the poor imitations currently enjoying massive publicity because of their misappropriation of the Bitcoin name—this latest development should be surprising only to the extent that you might have thought this action would have taken place much sooner.
This should be a straightforward application of copyright law. The creator owns the copyright. The only move remotely available to those in violation of Dr. Wright’s copyright claim is to assert that he is not in fact Satoshi Nakamoto and thus, not the copyright holder. And lo, it is often claimed—especially by the kinds of people who recently received a letter from Wright—that Dr. Wright proving his identity is a simple matter of using the private keys associated with Satoshi Nakamoto’s public key (as preserved on the original Bitcoin.org website).
But how do we know that the key which appears on Bitcoin.org is the original key? Satoshi vanished from the project, which was then carried on by others. He obviously wasn’t in control of the Bitcoin.org website from that point, so versions of the website that we have available—including those stored in internet archive websites—should be treated carefully. Once these archives are approached carefully, it becomes obvious that the only reason that their claims that Dr. Wright is not in fact the creator of Bitcoin and the White Paper is a defense they can now consider making is because they set it up for themselves.
One of the many things to have been changed about the Bitcoin.org website is the so-called Satoshi Nakamoto public key which appears on the archived versions of the website—the very key which Dr. Wright’s detractors insist is the only way in which a person can make a claim to the identity. Out of all of the pages on Bitcoin.org, the most important—the one containing what is widely assumed to be the Satoshi Nakamoto key—is the only one for which no archive exists before 2011. Viewing the archived 2009 webpage allows you to click the link to what would have been the Satoshi Nakamoto public key—but doing so will conspicuously take you to a website which didn’t exist before 2011. This is intentional, and could only have been done by the people in control of the website in question—in this case, those who inherited the Bitcoin project after the disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto and then beyond.
Suspicion is added to suspicion when you consider that the Bitcoin.org which appears to be from 2011, also coincidentally the earliest point at which the Satoshi public key is even available, is a marked departure from the website which appears in the Satoshi era: in fact, the 2011 version of the website not only looks different, but may as well be for an entirely different project. Suddenly, the Bitcoin software was ‘community driven’ and ‘open source’—apparently without authority directing the project.
So where is the original page for the Satoshi Nakamoto public key as it appeared when Satoshi was active back in 2009? No one knows, and the inconsistencies contained within Bitcoin.org should make you very cautious of anyone claiming to know, without a doubt, the public key belonging to Satoshi Nakamoto. The controllers of Bitcoin.org may or may not know—but they certainly know that the public key which appears on even the archived Bitcoin.org pages is not genuine—and therefore, they know that the real Satoshi Nakamoto could never fulfil their challenge.
Dr. Wright is obviously aware of this: he has been vocal in his refusal to dance to the tune being played by those who are currently (and apparently, illegally) claiming the Bitcoin name for themselves. He has refused to entertain calls to ‘simply prove’ his identity by producing the private keys. At the same time, Dr. Wright has consistently offered to prove his claim in court. Those who have taken up that offer have lost, and come out the other side with a conspicuous unwillingness to repeat their claim that Dr. Wright is not the creator of Bitcoin.
Those who have taken the veracity of the current Bitcoin.org websites as a given might have seen a contradiction between these two approaches—refusing to provide ‘easy’ proof on the one hand while being willing to go down a much more difficult path toward proof on the other. However (ignoring the fact that the litigation has been method of choice for reliably resolving disputes for centuries) once you realize that those most loudly protesting Dr. Wright’s claim to be the inventor of Bitcoin are those same people attempting to rewrite history using Bitcoin.org, Dr. Wright’s position makes perfect sense.
Dr. Wright’s decision to begin enforcing his claim is undoubtedly in large part due to a pushback against these efforts to rewrite history which have taken place in his absence. The Bitcoin name has become synonymous with projects which run entirely contrary to the vision for Bitcoin as expressed in the White Paper. This is true regardless of who you think Satoshi Nakamoto is.
Once you consider the damage being done by these disparate organizations wrongfully claiming the Bitcoin name for themselves—all the naïve investors sucked in, all of the crime that has been enabled by subsequent protocols – the only surprise is that Dr. Wright hasn’t taken this action before now.
The next steps seem obvious: anyone using the White Paper to give cover to poor imitations of the original protocol should expect to receive a letter like this. Those who refuse to comply will be first in line for a reckoning after spending years illegally profiting off the copyrighted work of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Watch Dr. Craig Wright tell Ryan X. Charles the background of Bitcoin.org and as they use the Way Back Machine to prove the Satoshi PGP key changed in 2011:
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