Copyright Office Weighs In After Wannabe Satoshi Craig Wright Registers Copyright On Original Bitcoin Paper
from the it-never-ends dept
I was tempted to start this post with just a series of head-smashing-into-desk emojis, but I thought that might come off as a bit weird. Remember Craig Wright? He’s the somewhat controversial guy who has claimed to have really been Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of people who do not believe Craig Wright, and have highlighted how Wright has failed to provide any of the fairly straightforward methods the original Satoshi could use to prove who he was, and instead used complicated methods that suggest gamesmanship, rather than actual proof.
As we’ve highlighted in our posts, Wright seems most focused on patenting everything he can with regards to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency — which, at the very least, seems to go against the open, sharing nature that was a key part of the early cryptocurrency community that Satoshi Nakamoto supported.
And now comes the somewhat hilarious report that Wright has tried to register the copyright on the original Bitcoin whitepaper that Satoshi Nakamoto published. This is basically a troll move. Registering the copyright is meaningless. The Copyright Office does not review carefully if you are the actual creator. It’s mostly a rubber stamp process — and it’s rarely an issue because in most cases if someone tried to fraudulently register someone else’s copyright, that would come out pretty quickly and it would not take long to sort out what’s real. But in this case, when you have an anonymous secret author, it gets a little more complicated.
As CoinCenter’s Jerry Brito notes this is sort of a bug of the system, but he also notes that someone else could also register the copyright and see if Wright would actually sue over it (in which case, he’d have to establish to a court that he actually held the copyright):
Someone else could today also register themselves as the author of the white paper, thus inviting a suit from Wright and letting a court decide on the validity of the claim. I volunteer @petermccormack.
— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) May 21, 2019
The situation is getting so much attention, that even the Copyright Office has decided to weigh in, highlighting (as we note above) that it doesn’t have any methodology for reviewing these registrations, or for anyone to contest them, and that any such situation would have to happen in federal court (most likely if anyone tried to enforce the copyright).
As a general rule, when the Copyright Office receives an application for registration, the claimant certifies as to the truth of the statements made in the submitted materials. The Copyright Office does not investigate the truth of any statement made.
A registration represents a claim to an interest in a work protected by copyright law, not a determination of the truth of the claims therein. It is possible for multiple, adverse claims to be registered at the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office does not have an opposition procedure for copyright registrations, such as the procedures available at the Patent and Trademark Office for patents and trademark registrations. Disputes over the claims in a registration may be heard before federal courts, including disputes over authorship of a work. Someone who intentionally includes false information in an application may be subject to penalties.
The Copyright Office also points out that it merely asks the applicant to state that they are the author of a pseudonymous piece of content.
In a case in which a work is registered under a pseudonym, the Copyright Office does not investigate whether there is a provable connection between the claimant and the pseudonymous author.
In the case of the two registrations issued to Mr. Wright, during the examination process, the Office took note of the well-known pseudonym ?Satoshi Nakamoto,? and asked the applicant to confirm that Craig Steven Wright was the author and claimant of the works being registered. Mr. Wright made that confirmation. This correspondence is part of the public registration record.
So, this probably doesn’t matter, because if Wright actually wants to enforce the copyright, then he’d have to go to court and prove that he was the legitimate holder of the copyright (and the registration by itself won’t cut it). But, as a purely dickish way to try to game the system to pretend you have proof of being “Satoshi Nakamoto,” it seems to fit in with a pattern of past behavior by Wright. Though not by Nakamoto. Still, it will be interesting to see if this copyright ever ends up in court.
For those of you who have been desperate for a crazy copyright case since the end of the monkey selfie case, I would nominate this potential lawsuit as a worthy followup.