It’s like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster. Imagine you’re a high-stakes poker player, and one day you claim to be the creator of the game itself. That’s what’s happening right now in the Bitcoin world. The player? Craig Wright, the man who professes to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic creator of Bitcoin.
Jessica Jonas, chief legal eagle at the Bitcoin Defense Legal Fund, took to the stage at the glitzy Bitcoin 2023 event in Miami, shedding light on Wright’s lawsuit that feels more like a page out of a John Grisham novel. According to Wright, 14 shadowy figures – the developers behind Bitcoin Core – owe him big time. Why? Because he alleges that his company, Tulip Trading, was outsmarted in a hack reminiscent of an ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ caper, losing a cool 111,000 Bitcoins.
Here comes the kicker. Wright is asking the court to order these elusive developers to tweak the very fabric of Bitcoin – its blockchain – to help him recover his lost loot. Jonas says that’s like asking a magician to pull an elephant out of a hat. Not only is it technically impossible, but it’s like asking everyone who uses Bitcoin to jump ship and board a new version of the currency.
But the implications of the lawsuit extend far beyond Bitcoin. In fact, they could rock the entire world of open source software, according to Jonas. “It’s a question of whether the very creators of open-source software owe a fiduciary duty to its users,” says Jonas. Should the court rule in Wright’s favor, the result could be an existential threat to the open-source community. Jonas warns, “Open source software makes up 97% of the world’s software.”
It’s not just about money. It’s about freedom of speech, according to Jonas. With the case taking place in the U.K., Wright’s lawsuit could, in essence, force U.S. developers to ‘speak’ against their will. And that’s an infringement of one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the U.S. constitution.