In response to Craig Wright’s filing to claim ownership of the original Bitcoin Whitepaper, the U.S. Copyright Office has declined to investigate claims.
Yesterday, we broke the news that an American man who goes by the name Craig Wright filed for registration with the U.S. Copyright Office to recognize him as the author of the Whitepaper – under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto – of both the white paper and code.
The Bitcoin Whitepaper is the document containing the idea, principles and concept of the Bitcoin digital currency and the blockchain powering the system.
The copyright was given via U.S. copyright registration no. TXu 2-136-996, effective date April 11, 2019, for the paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, with year of completion 2008. The registration recognizes the author as Craig Steven Wright, using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
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.
Wright is now legally establishing that he is Bitcoin’s creator after being dismayed to see his original Bitcoin design bastardized by protocol developer groups – first by Bitcoin Core [BTC] in 2017 and then again by Bitcoin Cash [BCH] developers in 2018. Those non-Satoshi protocol changes were made by developers who disagreed about whether or how the blockchain should massively scale. Importantly, Wright notes that “bitcoin was designed to be a monetary system that works within existing legal frameworks”. This differs from the path other developer groups are trying to follow where they are creating an anonymous system along the lines of EGold and Liberty reserve. This enables bitcoin to interact with the existing global financial system rather than seeking a black-market exchange system.
In response to the flurry of debates on whether the US Copyrights Office would investigate to proof Craig’s claims, the agency replied in a statement that:
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.
A registration represents a claim to an interest in a work protected by copyright law, not a determination of the truth of the claims therein. It is possible for multiple, adverse claims to be registered at the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office 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. Disputes over the claims in a registration may be heard before federal courts, including disputes over authorship of a work. Someone who intentionally includes false information in an application may be subject to penalties.
The examination process is primarily focused on determining whether a deposited work is eligible for protection under the Copyright Act and whether the application satisfies the requirements of registration. The Copyright Office will correspond with the claimant to clear up any obvious inconsistencies. The Copyright Office may similarly correspond with a claimant if a deposited work seems to include portions a well-known work whose author is known.
In a case in which a work is registered under a pseudonym, the Copyright Office does not investigate whether there is a provable connection between the claimant and the pseudonymous author.
In the case of the two registrations issued to Mr. Wright, during the examination process, the Office took note of the well-known pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” and asked the applicant to confirm that Craig Steven Wright was the author and claimant of the works being registered. Mr. Wright made that confirmation. This correspondence is part of the public registration record.
There is no indication that anyone could sue Craig Wright to make a counter-claim to the copyright application. As it stands, the US Copyrights Office implied Craig Wright has been given ownership of the copyright.
In response to the news of his copyright ownership, Bitcoin SV, a Bitcoin hard fork token backed by Craig saw a 70% rise in its price across major exchanges.