Landmark Decision: UK Court Grants Craig Wright Appeal in Bitcoin Rights Lawsuit

On July 20, a significant development occurred in the ongoing legal battle surrounding Bitcoin’s rights, as a British court granted an appeal to Craig Wright. This appeal allows Wright to present arguments in the litigation claiming that the Bitcoin file format possesses sufficient definition to qualify for copyright protection.

Since 2016, Wright has asserted that he is the true inventor of Bitcoin, known by its ticker BTC. In his lawsuit against 13 Bitcoin Core developers and several companies, including Blockstream, Coinbase, and Block, he alleges that these parties violated his copyright to the Bitcoin white paper, file format, and database rights associated with the Bitcoin blockchain.

This recent court decision marks a reversal of a previous ruling from February, which deemed Wright’s arguments inadequate in proving the initial recording of the Bitcoin file format, a critical aspect of copyright law known as fixation.

In a tweet on the same day as the appeal’s grant, Wright emphasized the importance of intellectual property protection to safeguard creators’ and innovators’ rights and foster the production of new ideas and creative works.

The legal representative for the developers, the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund (BLDF), contends that Wright has not provided sufficient evidence to substantiate his claim of being Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of the Bitcoin white paper and database. BLDF argues that Wright must first prove himself to be Nakamoto before the court can make any decision on the primary claims made in the lawsuit. The trial is expected to take place in early 2024.

While the Bitcoin code is open-source and freely available under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology license, which grants users the right to reuse the code for any purpose, including proprietary software, Wright argues that Bitcoin Core developers form a centralized entity called the “Bitcoin Partnership” that controls the Bitcoin network. BLDF accuses Wright of attempting to obfuscate the development process, painting it as a centralized operation controlled by a few individuals, which serves as a critical argument in his lawsuit.

BLDF expressed deep concern about the court’s decision to allow Wright’s arguments to be heard, not just for the crypto community but for the global community as a whole. The fear is that this could establish a dangerous precedent, enabling developers to be sued for allegedly violating the file format of open-source software claimed to be created by someone else.

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