Craig Wright loses U.K. case as judge rules Bitcoin file format can’t be copyrighted
Wright won't be able to restrict the operation of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Craig Wright has lost a case in the U.K. that could have allowed him to prevent the operation of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, as seen in a Feb. 7 court filing.
In his claim, Wright argued that Bitcoin SV — his minority fork of Bitcoin — is the original version of the Bitcoin blockchain. He argued that Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash re-use elements of Bitcoin to which he owns the rights whenever their software is executed. Wright, therefore, aimed to prevent the operation of those two chains.
Wright additionally claimed that the inclusion of the Bitcoin whitepaper in block 230,009 of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash violates his copyright.
Judge James Mellor said that although Wright’s copyright claims over the Bitcoin whitepaper “raise serious issues to be tried,” today’s judgment only concerns whether Wright’s claims over Bitcoin’s file format constitute a serious issue to be tried.
Judge Mellor recognized Wright’s attempts to apply copyright to the Bitcoin File Format as a literary work. The judge noted that the term “literary work” could include a wide variety of subject matter, including computer software and non-human readable data.
However, it does not apply in this case. Judge Mellor said that, based on the evidence, merely running a Bitcoin node to create a new block in the Bitcoin File Format does not meet fixation or sufficient identifiability requirements. Copyright law cannot be applied to something whose “subject matter which is not expressed or fixed anywhere,” he said.
Judge Mellor said that to prevent default judgments against defendants, amended claims from Wright must remove references to copyright infringement on the Bitcoin File Format. Mellor additionally denied Wright permission to appeal today’s decision; Wright will first need to gain court permission if he wishes to do so.
Wright has repeatedly claimed that he is the creator of Bitcoin and the individual behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Today’s case (IL-2022-000069) represents one of Wright’s many attempts to assert control over the Bitcoin landscape. It is separate from another case (BL-2021-000313) in which Wright intends to sue various Bitcoin developers on similar grounds. On Feb. 3, Judge Colin Birss in London’s Court of Appeals allowed the latter case to go to trial.
The latter case alleges that developers owe Wright an amount of Bitcoin — currently 111,000 BTC or $2.5 billion. No reference to any sum was made in today’s judgment.