Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund Prepares for First Case

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  • The Bitcoin Legal Defense fund is preparing to fund its first case
  • The fund, first mentioned by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, solicits Bitcoin donations to help developers fight lawsuits relating to their work
  • The first case will see the developers defend themselves against Craig Wright’s spurious claims

The recently established Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, fronted by Twitter and Block co-founder Jack Dorsey, is preparing to support a cabal of developers in its first case. The fund, which Dorsey proposed over a year ago, will help pay the legal bills for the developers who face a series of lawsuits from Craig Wright, who claims they have breached his copyright over the Bitcoin whitepaper, code and file format. The fund allows Bitcoiners to donate funds towards the legal defense of Bitcoin developers caught up in legal issues relating to their work on the protocol and allow them to continue their work.

Bitcoin Developers Facing Legal Battles

Dorsey first mooted such a fund last January when he emailed the Bitcoin developer mailing list over his concerns that Bitcoin developers were being forced to hang up their keyboards due to legal threats, most notably from Wright, and that the protocol could suffer as a result. This has proven to be correct, with long-standing developers such as Wladimir van der Laan stepping aside, with van der Laan himself citing “burnout and health issues”.

In the email, Dorsey acknowledged that developers might be forced to “capitulate in the absence of legal support” and as a result wanted the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund to “minimize legal headaches that discourage software developers from actively developing Bitcoin and related projects such as the Lightning Network, Bitcoin privacy protocols, and the like.”

After more than a year of work, the fund is up and running, with co-founder Alex Morcos tweeting that funds they are already preparing to fund the first case:

Wright Cases First Up

There are currently two cases in which Wright is targeting Bitcoin developers. The first relates to the widely discredited ‘pineapple hack’ and the alleged loss of 80,000 Wright says were stolen from him, with Wright claiming that, as operators of the Bitcoin blockchain, they have a fiduciary duty over his coins and must find a way of getting them back to him. This, of course, would have a hugely damaging impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem. Wright had this case tossed out but won a court case on appeal.

The second is the copyright case, where Wright is suing a collection of Bitcoin developers and companies because he says they are infringing his copyright over the Bitcoin whitepaper, blockchain and file format. The file format element has already been dismissed (pending appeal), but the other two will go to court. It is imperative that the developers are able to fight these cases to stop Wright from essentially breaking the Bitcoin protocol in his attempts to foist BSV onto the world, and so the fund encourages everyone to donate to help fund the developers in their hour of need.

The Bitcoin public has already helped out Bitcoiner Hodlonaut, who sought donations for his own fight against Wright, who is funded by billionaire Calvin Ayre. Hodlonaut beat Wright last year but Wright won an appeal and will get a new trial.