The Bitcoin whitepaper was released by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto exactly 14 years ago, on October 31, 2008. They shared the nine-page document under the permissive free software MIT license for anyone to access. However, just last year a UK court forced a website to take it down for infringing copyright.
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has claimed to be Satoshi since 2013. Despite being given many opportunities over the years to verify this cryptographically, Wright chose to start his own crypto project — a fork of a Bitcoin fork named Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV) — then insist it’s the real Bitcoin and sue everyone.
The polarizing figure announced he would seek legal action against any website that refused to stop hosting the Bitcoin whitepaper in February 2020. A few months later, Wright sued the pseudonymous figure behind educational portal Bitcoin.org, known as Cøbra, for copyright infringement.
Cøbra initially decided to fight Wright in court, but didn’t attend the UK-based hearings in order to protect their anonymity. Cøbra therefore lost the case by default and was ordered to pay Wright’s legal fees of £35,000 ($40,100).
“How does a [Bitcoin payment] to the address associated with block #9 sound?” responded Cøbra via Twitter, referring to a block mined by Satoshi back in 2009 (and therefore only accessible to the real deal).
Bitcoin.org was also ordered to stop hosting the Bitcoin whitepaper to UK-based users. Instead, the URL now opens to a blank page with one sentence:
It takes advantage of the nature of information being easy to spread but hard to stifle.Satoshi Nakamoto
The lawsuit brought widespread protests from the crypto industry, who responded by hosting a copy of the whitepaper themselves. This includes prominent figures like Jameson Lopp, companies like Spiral, the crypto arm of Jack Dorsey’s Square, and governments like the US, Estonia, and Colombia.
One anonymous Twitter user even compiled a list of over 100 websites that hosted the whitepaper. The creator told Protos it was their way of “fighting back against Wright’s nonsense.”
Among others, Wright also sued a Twitter user known as Hodlonaut in 2019 for defamation. The crypto-themed astronaut cat personality called Wright a fraud on Twitter.
They received an outpouring of public support, including donations of at least 52.69 bitcoin (worth $1 million dollars at press time). Hodlonaut won the subsequent court case in Norway last week on the grounds that many media outlets have doubted Wright’s Satoshi claims for years.
“The prevailing opinion in the media (including Gizmodo, 11 December 2015, BBC News, 2 May 2016, The Guardian, 3 May 2016 and GQ Magazine, 18 November 2016) has been, and is, that Wright is unlikely to be Satoshi Nakamoto.”
Wright was ordered to pay the astrocat $348,257.