Bitcoin File Format Copyright Claim Fails

Reading Time: 2 minutes
  • Craig Wright has failed in an attempt to enforce copyright on the Bitcoin file format
  • Wright is suing Bitcoin developers and a number of companies over several copyright issues
  • Wright was allowed to file suit on charges of database copyright violation and violation of the Bitcoin whitepaper

Craig Wright has failed in his attempt to claim copyright over the Bitcoin file format after the Australian was unable to provide evidence to back up his claims. Wright had sued dozens of Bitcoin related developers and other entities in the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts in an attempt to get a judge to assert that he, as Bitcoin’s creator, had invented the Bitcoin file format, but the judge rejected this, saying that Wright hadn’t provided any physical proof that had created the Bitcoin file format other than saying so.

Wright Has Four Suits Relating to Copyright

Wright’s lawsuit against the developers and companies such as Coinbase, Blockstream, and Square, was filed with one purpose – to legally enforce his claim that, as copyright holder of all the Bitcoin architecture, they are not allowed to work with the codebase unless they agree a licensing fee with him. The action is one of four in the Business and Property Courts involving Wright all related to his claim that his vehicle BSV is the real Bitcoin and that others have been “passing off” Bitcoin as BTC ever since the chain split.

This particular filing concerned three elements – the rights to the Bitcoin database, use and distribution of the Bitcoin whitepaper, and the Bitcoin file structure. The judge granted Wright the ability to file suits against the developers and the companies over the Bitcoin database and copyright elements, saying that there were areas that should be looked at in court, but rejected Wright’s claim over the Bitcoin file format.

Wright failed in his first attempt to convince the judge over the file format issue, but the judge offered Wright’s counsel a private hearing to put the case more thoroughly. This opportunity was taken, but the judge still refused Wright to serve on this basis, saying that he has offered insufficient evidence to back up his claim:

It is most revealing that, despite all these opportunities, the Claimants have not filed any evidence to the effect that a block contains content indicating the structure, as opposed to simply reflecting it […] the absence of such evidence confirms my initial view that, whether one considers the point at which the first, second or subsequent block(s) were written embodying the structure of the file format, nowhere was the structure of Bitcoin File Format fixed in a copyright sense in a material form in any of those blocks.

The end result is similar to Wright’s issue with the developers over the ‘stolen’ funds from the alleged pineapple hack – Wright’s case was dismissed with no direct appeal allowed, and yet he asked the Court of Appeal to look at this decision, which was this week overturned, meaning it will go to trial.

Wright Will Appeal

Wright has already said that he will appeal this judgement, claiming that, “The judge erred in thinking that the file format is like a programming language. That will be addressed in the appeal.” He also complained that articles suggesting he lost are “market manipulation” and he could take legal action against outlets that suggest so.

Whether this appeal is successful or not, Bitcoin developers face yet further legal complications from Mr Wright in his attempt to force the blockchain world to see BSV as Bitcoin.