Bitcoin Developers Weigh the Costs of Defying White Paper Copyright Claim

The Bitcoin community is debating the extent to which Bitcoin Core developers and maintainers should shoulder the symbolic burden of hosting its white paper, particularly when doing so could unnecessarily sap their time and finances.

The question arose after the Bitcoin white paper was taken down from Bitcoincore.org, a canonical repository for the Bitcoin software and educational resources like Satoshi’s 10-page thesis, following legal threats of copyright infringement from nChain Chief Scientist Craig Wright.

Wright, who has made a career of his claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, also helped to spawn the Bitcoin fork Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV).

The Bitcoin white paper, titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” was published by Satoshi Nakamoto under an  MIT public license in 2008 and is distributed widely in many forms around the world. Wright has filed a copyright claim and that claim has been processed, but it is still open to challenge.

But whether his legal pressure has merit is not the issue: Wright is no stranger to lawsuits and has eagerly sued prominent Bitcoiners, like British podcast Peter McCormack, for challenging his claim as the inventor of Bitcoin.

The issue is whether it would be best to entertain another of Wright’s enervating (but expensive) lawsuits with a show of strength, or if sidestepping the problem entirely by removing the white paper – which exists in numerous corners of the web anyway – would be a wiser path for Bitcoincore.org to follow.

While Bitcoincore.org’s maintainers have scuttled the white paper from the site, Bitcoin.org, the other website in the lawsuit’s sights, has yet to remove the white paper.

As to the matter of practicality vs. principal, as ever, Bitcoin’s open-source community is at odds with itself.

No harm, no foul

Prolific Bitcoin contributor Gregory Maxwell, for instance, is in the camp that argues hosting the white paper on the Bitcoin Core website carries unneeded legal and…

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