COPA v. Craig Wright trial analyzes newly published Satoshi emails

During Day 15 of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) v. Craig Wright trial in the UK High Court of Justice, new evidence again overshadowed the actual court proceedings. As the world focused on reading hundreds of never-before-seen emails written by the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, Craig Wright returned to the stand for yet another day of testimony.

Although he had some interesting things to say, most of the world focused on the information contained in old emails between Satoshi Nakamoto and early Bitcoin developers Martti Malmi and Adam Back.

For context, COPA is asking London’s supreme court to enjoin Wright from asserting authorship and copyright over Bitcoin’s whitepaper. Alliance members want to prevent the Australian entrepreneur from continuing his multi-year litigation campaign against Bitcoin educators and Core developers. 

And as the high-stakes lawsuit has proceeded, new evidence from the earliest days of Bitcoin has reached public view for the first time.

Martti Malmi — the first administrator of after Satoshi — published his trove of emails on GitHub, a code repository. He explained that due to sensitive information within the emails, including links and passwords, he had withheld these conversations with Bitcoin’s creator for years.

However, as Malmi took the witness stand in London this month and Wright entered his emails with Satoshi as evidence, Malmi decided to make his hundreds of personal emails with Satoshi public.

After all, it had been well over a decade since Satoshi wrote them. Moreover, the publication would now be safe, as Malmi’s preamble acknowledged, “There are some passwords and a street address mentioned in the emails, but those are no longer valid or relevant.”

Read now: Craig Wright trial reveals never-before-seen emails from Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi sent email praising FAQ section

In one of Satoshi’s first emails to Malmi, Satoshi praised Malmi’s efforts in copywriting the FAQ section. Satoshi described Malmi’s understanding of Bitcoin as “spot on.” In contrast to Satoshi’s belief to be “not that great” at the written word, Malmi counterargued that Satoshi’s English was actually “perfect.”

Unfortunately, Malmi has lost access to his collegiate email account from which he first emailed Satoshi. Nevertheless, as of May 2009 when their first email exchange occurred on non-university email servers, Satoshi opined that Bitcoin’s biggest challenges involved creating an interface for server-side scripting languages like Java, Python, or ASP. Satoshi also wanted someone to run a Bitcoin node to which new users could easily connect.

Malmi took that advice seriously. Malmi ended up running one of the most popular nodes in the early days of Bitcoin. His address was publicly broadcast and was an important first connection point for new nodes to join Bitcoin’s mesh network.

Malmi ran a Bitcoin node “pretty much 24/7” as of May 3, 2009. His always-online node was a welcome upgrade from Satoshi’s carousel of sometimes-online nodes.

A quick note of clarification: In Bitcoin’s early years, the term ‘node’ had the meaning of a modern-day, ‘fully archival and mining node.’ In the early years of Bitcoin, all node operators mined bitcoin and ran a node on the same computer, so there was no distinction between node operators and miners.

Satoshi used the term ‘node’ interchangeably with what most people would call a ‘node-operating miner’ today. Only much later would the labor roles of node operation and mining professionally differentiate.

Martti Malmi discusses with Satoshi

In other never-before-seen emails, Malmi mentioned that he had an account with SourceForge, a code repository similar to GitHub. His account would be important for checking updates to Bitcoin’s codebase, as SourceForge originally hosted Bitcoin’s repository.

Malmi also revealed his alias ‘Trickstern’ on the forum At the time, he was studying programming in school and already had a basic grasp of computer languages C and Java. He told Satoshi he might pick up some C++ coding as well.

Malmi emailed a suggestion to Satoshi to create a user interface (UI) tool for creating password-protected private keys. He said it could help users secure their private keys even if they used multiple computers or someone accessed their home. 

Satoshi agreed with the password idea but admitted to putting it off so he could work on other features like escrow. At the time, Satoshi was emphasizing adjusting firewall settings to make port number 8333 available for new connections if someone wanted to add a node. Outside of Bitcoin, port 8333 is common for TCP-related applications like wireless devices.

Satoshi also emailed Malmi questions that other people had asked to use for the FAQ section. Satoshi said getting into many of the advanced technical specifications in the FAQ was more likely to open “a can of worms.” Satoshi’s advice was that it was best to focus on the questions that casual users were likely to ask about Bitcoin.

Satoshi also clarified that a statistic labeled ‘blocks’ indicated how many blocks existed in Bitcoin’s blockchain. He seemed to suggest that a string of ‘block not accepted’ errors could indicate that the node had lost its network connection.

However, if the block not accepted errors seemed to happen randomly without being a majority of blocks, then everything could still be operating normally, since some blocks ‘erroring-out’ or not being accepted as valid by the network was normal behavior.

A blocksize to compete with Visa

Satoshi thought Bitcoin could scale until it had a capacity comparable to Visa, which at the time, “processes 15 million internet purchases per day online.” Satoshi thought there was a chance it could scale even higher than that with the ‘existing hardware’ that was common in 2009.

He also mentioned Moore’s Law while expressing confidence that computing hardware capacity could stay ahead of Bitcoin’s adoption rate.

This later became an issue with the Blocksize War of 2017, with the Roger Ver/Craig Wright camp (BCH and BSV, respectively) forking away from Bitcoin (BTC) to pursue their own vision of big blocks. Wright and other big blockers preferred scaling up data storage on-chain rather than relying on second-layer solutions like Liquid or Lightning proposed by corporate entities like Blockstream.

Interestingly, Ripple was founded in 2004, and Satoshi Nakamoto seemed to be aware of it. Satoshi spoke sparingly of Ripple, saying mostly that it had interesting characteristics and withholding judgment. Notably, Ripple didn’t create its digital payment network that became XRPL until 2011 — after Satoshi disappeared.

Satoshi seemed to anticipate that environmentalists might criticize Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm for using electricity. They said proof-of-work was the only solution to prevent double-spending and enable peer-to-peer electronic cash without a trusted third party. Satoshi still thought it could be more efficient than the mainstream financial industry, which he described as “labour and resource intensive.”

“Proof of work is the only solution I’ve found to make peer to peer e-cash work without a trusted third party.”

-Satoshi Nakamoto

Read now: Craig Wright hits COPA trial with 164,000 pages of evidence

Craig Wright takes the stand again on day 15

Craig Wright took the stand after a break from testifying as attorneys questioned witnesses for both sides of the case. Before his testimony went into full swing, his legal team attempted to clear up a few legal technicalities with Judge Mellor.

Of course, those ‘technicalities’ included whether Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto. “COPA wants me to say Wright is not Satoshi, You want me to say he is. Your declaration sits in the middle,” Judge Mellor said.

Wright’s lawyers maintained that COPA had failed in the herculean task of proving a negative. They also said Bitcoin was a ‘fugitive project,’ and Wright could bring it back to being ‘law-abiding.’

The judge seemed unconvinced and rejected whatever Wright’s attorneys wanted to do during this preliminary session. Then Wright showed up in another, endearingly ‘fashion-challenged’ suit with red, white, and black shoes.

Once he took the stand, he acknowledged that he couldn’t improve on earlier testimony. Instead, he was expected to answer questions about the tens of thousands of pages of documents submitted as evidence.

Wright responds to COPA’s questions

COPA’s attorney, probably Jonathan Hough, held up a document showing transfers of assets between companies dated November 8, 2009.

When asked, Wright claimed the transactions were not backdated. COPA pointed to evidence that transactions had been added to some files. For example, one was labeled ‘Madden,’ another ‘MYOB.’

Wright denied involvement with one transfer worth £780,000 and called attention to some discrepancies in the dates. Here, Wright’s attorney objected to the inclusion of privileged information. The judge said he would check a transcript about that.

Wright also disputed the dates during which Ontier’s Oliver Cain could have had access to MYOB. (Ontier had previously served as Wright’s legal representative.) Hough mentioned that Ontier said he was given access on September 3, 2020. Wright said that wasn’t correct.

However, he then admitted that he didn’t recall whether his wife might have granted access to the MYOB account on her own. When Hough brought up a session that lasted 12 years, Wright said that wasn’t right and blamed it on MYOB migrating to a new system.

Wright says he didn’t do it; his wife did.

According to Wright, a company called Abacus provided services for Tulip Trading, which he referred to as one of Abacus’ major clients. He claimed that documents created by Abacus, including Tulip Trading’s incorporation forms from 2011, were forged. He said an email address had been compromised. Incidentally, he claimed to have launched Tulip Trading in 2011.

Wright records a document forgery… for his lawyers?

Next, the courtroom viewed a harrowing allegation: An animation of Craig Wright’s alleged attempt to recreate the Bitcoin whitepaper using the computer system LaTeX. (Satoshi created the original Bitcoin whitepaper using Open Office, not LaTeX.)

Wright claims the demonstration was for his lawyers. COPA claims he forged Bitcoin’s whitepaper.

COPA lawyers played Bitcoin’s animation in court as a way to visualize its allegation. Wright allegedly recreated the whitepaper in November 2023. It might have taken him as many as 22 hours to complete.

Craig Wright demonstrates how someone might forge a document.

Read more: COPA trial: ‘Very annoying’ Craig Wright was ‘into Japanese stuff’

The differences between the authentic, Open Office whitepaper and the forged, LaTeX whitepaper tossed up red flags visible to digital forensics experts. In previous testimony, Wright had disputed the work of the digital forensics experts in earlier testimony.

On Friday, Wright claimed that it was “totally not feasible” to recreate the whitepaper without access to an old version of Windows and Zip. He allowed that it was technically possible, though — as possible as it’s technically possible for unicorns to exist.

Craig Wright catastrophizes into a red herring.

Wright also claimed that there were different versions of the Bitcoin whitepaper. He said he tended to copy and paste things and didn’t anticipate in 2007 and 2008 that he would have difficulty proving in court that he is Satoshi. He had copied documents into an Overleaf account, for instance.

He denied changing his documents to more closely match the Bitcoin whitepaper published on October 31, 2008.

Final questions about the forgery video

After COPA attorney Alexander Gunning finished playing the animation of Wright’s alleged whitepaper’s recreation in LaTeX, Wright allowed that it demonstrated how someone would have forged the document if it had been forged. Of course, Wright claims he didn’t forge the whitepaper. To be clear, COPA claims that Wright did forge this document.

Wright said that the animation, which contained some of his own work, was merely a demonstration for his attorneys. When Judge Mellor asked for clarification, Wright said he wanted to show how small edits could alter a document.

Wright did acknowledge that a computer-based system would use the system clock, which he would have known how to adjust — and says he sometimes adjusted his clock to accommodate timezones.

COPA and Wright made an interesting exchange at the end of Wright’s testimony. COPA’s Gunning said, “Your claim to be Satoshi is a fraud.” Wright retorted curiously, “No. And I do not need to be Satoshi anyway. BSV already does more transactions than Oracle and Microsoft. Governments are talking to us.”

Then the court adjourned for the weekend. It will pick up again today. 

Regardless, the world will continue reading Satoshi Nakamoto’s emails with Martti Malmi and Adam Back.

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