By CCN: Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright shocked the cryptocurrency community on Tuesday by filing copyright registrations over the Bitcoin whitepaper and early Bitcoin code. In a press release, Wright claimed the US Copyright Office had officially “recognized” his role as the true bitcoin creator.
The Copyright Office hit back last night with an official statement debunking the claims. In it, they explain that a copyright registration is not a “determination of truth.” It simply represents a claim over works. The Copyright Office does investigate the validity of those claims.
“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.”
This is nonsense. There's literally no such thing as being "awarded a copyright" under US law. The only real benefit of registering with the Copyright Office is the right to sue for statutory damages & attorney's fees. Craig Wright's copyright registration is meaningless theater. https://t.co/hQ0xrX0Tv2
— Jake Chervinsky (@jchervinsky) May 21, 2019
As one lawyer engaged in the crypto space, Jake Chervinsky, said, Craig Wright’s copyright registration is “meaningless theater.”
Anyone can file a copyright claim over the bitcoin whitepaper
As CCN alluded to in our initial reporting, and subsequent commentary, Craig Wright’s copyright registration is not proof of ownership. It is not evidence he is Satoshi Nakamoto, nor that he wrote the bitcoin whitepaper.
As the Copyright Office explains:
“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.”
— Neeraj K. Agrawal (@NeerajKA) May 21, 2019
Anyone else could submit a claim over the Bitcoin whitepaper, just as Craig Wright did. If that happened, a Federal court, not the Copyright Office, would investigate the claims:
“It is possible for multiple, adverse claims to be registered at the Copyright Office… Disputes over the claims in a registration may be heard before federal courts, including disputes over authorship of a work.”
Craig Wright may be subject to penalties for false copyright claims
The Copyright Office explains that false copyright claims may be subject to penalties.
“Someone who intentionally includes false information in an application may be subject to penalties.”
Despite claiming he created Bitcoin, Wright has yet to provide hard evidence to back it up. Per the Copyright Office statement, all Wright did was “confirm” he was the author behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. No evidence, just written confirmation.
“[We] asked the applicant to confirm that Craig Steven Wright was the author and claimant of the works being registered. Mr. Wright made that confirmation.”
As many commentators point out, the real Satoshi would simply need to sign a message with the private key associated with the Genesis block, the first bitcoin block ever mined.
Cooler heads prevail
Some initially panicked that Craig Wright’s copyright claim held significant weight. CNBC crypto analyst Ran NeuNer worried it would stop people using it without Wright’s agreement.
I think the Crypto world is grossly under estimating the implications of the latest move by Craig Wright. If he is awarded the copyright for the code and white paper he could stop people from using it without agreement. This is a scary thought.
— Ran NeuNer (@cryptomanran) May 21, 2019
However, he was quickly reminded that Bitcoin was released under an MIT License. As CCN explained, it’s one of the most permissive licenses. CoinCenter’s executive director Jerry Brito also brought sensibility to the issue, reminding followers that registering a copyright is nothing more than “signing a form.”