Jess Jonas, Chief Legal Officer of the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund joins me to chat:
- Overview the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund – supported by Jack Dorsey, Alex Morcos, Martin White
- What’s the threat with the Tulip Trading Case?
- What are the open-source licensing implications for developers?
- Secondary case and Bitcoin copyright claims
Stephan Livera links:
Stephan Livera 00:00:01
Welcome to the show.
Jess Jonas 00:00:01
Hi, thanks for having me.
Stephan Livera 00:00:03
Sure, so the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, and it’s a certainly a lot of things that have been going on with that. And yeah, interested to chat a little bit about that. Do you wanna just give us a little bit of a background on yourself? So we know who you are.
Jess Jonas 00:00:19
So I’m the chief legal officer of the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund. I am a lawyer and I’ve been practicing as a lawyer for over a decade now. For the last several years, I have worked in different in-house positions with financial institutions. Both a crypto company as well as traditional finance. So I’ve sort of run the gamut in the financial sphere as a lawyer, and now I’m working in this position as the lead lawyer for a nonprofit organization.
Stephan Livera 00:00:50
And So what is the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund?
Jess Jonas 00:00:53
The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit that was established by Jack Dorsey, Alex Morcos and Martin White. To help Bitcoin developers with their legal needs. As you know and I know we’re going to talk about this in a little while. Several individual Bitcoin developers were sued in lawsuits in the UK, and these talented individuals are shaping the future of finance and technology, and they deserve the freedom to innovate without the constant threat of legal action, so the fund by providing legal support, allows them to focus on what really matters, which is building technologies that will create a better future for all of us.
Stephan Livera 00:01:39
And as I understand the way these things work is somebody with a lot of resources can really force you to spend a lot of your own resources in defense, right? Is that like a fair characterization of how these things work?
Jess Jonas 00:01:54
You know I wish I could say that the legal system is set up in such a way to quickly and efficiently deal with individuals who bring lawsuits. That, essentially, are weaponizing the court system, but the legal system here in the US and in the UK and essentially all over the world, when somebody brings a claim, the court has to hear the claim until they can come to the point where the claim is adjudicated either dismissed or what have you. So unfortunately, you know, even claims that are frivolous. The court system has to deal with and you’re absolutely right. Somebody has a lot of money or has a lot of resources behind them. That can create quite a lot of problems for the people who are being sued?
Stephan Livera 00:02:45
Okay. And I suppose it also gets a bit more technical in this case because we’re dealing with Bitcoin open source and there’s all these aspects where now part of the barrier is part of the difficulty is to actually educate at the same time to also win an argument at the same time.
00:03:02 Jess Jonas
That’s right. The subject matter that the court system is dealing with is, you know, the legal area is somewhat uncomplicated. But the factual underpinnings of the case are extremely complicated, extremely technologically difficult for people to understand. And so there’s an aspect of this is making sure that we are properly educating the court about how the technology works and what that means in a way that’s comprehensible to somebody who is not a software developer who does not live in breathe Bitcoin. And I like to say it when I’m talking to our outside. Council or I’m talking to the developers. You can use me as a proxy. For the court because I myself am not an expert in the technology, I’m a lawyer. And if I look something and I read it and I say, this doesn’t make any sense to me then it’s probably not going to make sense to the court. So being able to speak about how the technology works and what the developers do and why that’s meaningful in this case is really critical.
Stephan Livera 00:04:08
OK. So let’s get into some of the details on this specific case. As I understand the main case we’re talking about here is the. It’s known as the Tulip trading case or Tulip trading limited V Bitcoin Association for BSV and others. So could you give us a bit of a background here just to. Help us understand what’s going on.
Jess Jonas 00:04:27
OK, sure. So tool trading is a company that is owned and operated by Craig Wright and Tool Trading brought a lawsuit against several individual Bitcoin developers. Alleging breach of fiduciary duty, essentially, write claims that Bitcoin is not in fact decentralized, and as a result, people who work on the software should be compelled by the Court to aid him in accessing funds that he claims to have owned and claims to have lost. Due to computer hack and the story of, you know, the alleged hack he suffered is sort of like this salacious open oceans 11 style hack he claims that’s, you know, this thing happened. And that thing happened and that thing happened and then he lost 111,000 Bitcoin. But ultimately, the story is not really what’s important. What’s important is that he has brought a claim in the UK that the courts are willing to hear, alleging that these individuals should be recognized as an ad hoc class of fiduciary. And just for context, because.
Stephan Livera 00:05:48
Jess Jonas 00:05:49
Most people don’t live and breathe all the duties that exist under the law. The English court has said that a fiduciary duty is a duty of single minded loyalty where the fiduciary fiduciary is obligated to put the principal’s best interests above all others, including their own. This is an exceptional obligation far beyond any ordinary duty of care to deal honestly or without negligence. In fact, it is the highest duty of care under the. So, you know, essentially what this case is about is it’s a tort. It’s a, you know, it’s a tort case. Somebody was injured and they’re looking allegedly injured and they’re looking for recourse. But you know, factually both the claim itself is questionable and the remedy that tool trading is seeking is also, you know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense if you understand how Bitcoin works. It doesn’t make sense because even if the court were to find that if a dictionary duty is owed and I want to come back. To that because it’s sort of a very critical piece and you know has. Really. No. There. It doesn’t make any sense under the 200 plus years of legal theory. On duties, even if the court were to go that far, which we do not think will happen, the remedy that Tulipe is seeking here is just impossible. Essentially, the remedy that Tulip is seeking is they’re asking the court to demand that a group of individuals. Right? A back door into the code that would allow Tulip to gain access over these funds, and that’s just not how Bitcoin works. It undercuts the entire conceit of bits and you know, taking it a little bit farther if right? Is who he claims to be. He could write this patch, but all that would do was essentially fork the software. So there are that, you know, this is sort of a very surface explanation of what’s going on here. But the reason why I’m bringing it up is to point out that this is a very case has a lot of frailties. Both factually and legally, and the fact that it is where it is sort of makes all of us question how can the Court system continue to allow this abuse? How can the court system allow itself to be used as a weapon?
Stephan Livera 00:08:32
So as I understand, this suit is being brought against a dozen Bitcoin developers and some other people also. And yeah, it just doesn’t seem to make sense, right? Because he’s trying to claim coins that. Yeah, I mean, I’m sort of. I’m curious like, OK, so even on their own terms, even setting aside the fiduciary duty part, even setting aside, you know, that such a thing would just be crazy. Whose coins is he claiming to hold? Right? If they were, if they were, quote UN quote, stolen, there was somebody else. And they may have now passed hands multiple times. How would it even? How would it even make sense to try and claim coins that have probably now passed multiple times, passed ownership multiple times?
Jess Jonas 00:09:15
Well, there are two wallets in this case that he claims to have owned. One of the wallets and I would probably have to Fact Check this, but if I recall one of the wallets which is a well known wallet, it’s the one fixed wallet.
Stephan Livera 00:09:32
Uh. Yep, Yep.
Jess Jonas 00:09:32
Hasn’t had yet, so you’re nodding. You know I’m talking about. That’s one of the walls that he claims he. Owned, which was stolen and that wallet is the subject of, you know, everything that’s going on with the Mount Gots bankruptcy. And there’s been no activity in that wallet since. I don’t know 2. 1011 or something like that so. You know, as I Said there are factual frailties in this case which will be adjudicated and bored out. But this case the way it works in the legal system, both in. The US and in the UK. If you’re trying to get rid of a case summarily, which means before you’ve gone through the presentation of facts and evidence, the court is obligated to take the facts as alleged by the claimant as true. So there has been no opportunity up until the defendants have put in their defense a couple weeks ago. For the defendants to contradict any of the allegations made by Tulip in the. Statement of claim because that’s how the case has to Make a decision summarily, they have to make an assumption. That the facts are true and all. On the basis of those facts. Where does the case go now? We’re at a place in the case where the defendants are able to put in their defense and actually contradict the state. The claims that have been made by Tulip in this case.
Stephan Livera 00:10:54
Gotcha. And so. Have the individuals actually been named or are they all anonymous? Here like as in the OK gotcha.
Jess Jonas 00:11:01
They happen thing and I think another curious thing of many curious things about this case. But another curious thing is that doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why the. 12 Bitcoin developers were named. It’s, you know, it’s not every Bitcoin developer that works on Bitcoin core. It’s not the, quote UN quote, most important Bitcoin developers who work on Bitcoin core. It’s sort of just an amorphous group of Bitcoin developers who work on Bitcoin core, plus other developers who work on other protocols, so you know. There’s even a question mark as to why was this the group that was selected? Why are these the individuals who are essentially being punished for working on free open source software?
Stephan Livera 00:11:45
I see. Yeah. And so. Well, I guess that that’s really the question is you’re saying we don’t know why, but is it that individuals have been chosen based on who is like, popular or influential or so that you know it it’s like a trying to send a message to the maximum number of. People we don’t know, right?
Jess Jonas 00:12:03
I mean, I can’t. I would never presume to know the inner workings of Craig Wright’s brain, but many of the individuals who were named don’t even work on Bitcoin anymore, have not worked on it for quite a long time. So. As I said, there doesn’t seem to really be any rhyme or reason as to why these were selected. But I do think it’s worthwhile to say. Some of the things that Wright has said publicly about what he’s doing here and why so he has declared publicly that he is the punishment of God and cryptocurrency, and he’s threatened nuclear Armageddon and jihad. Against those who do not share his. View that BSV is the only true Bitcoin. He’s also made public comments abusive of the defendants in this case and evincing his intention to cause them personal devastation. He’s some of these things that he said include. The cases will be like a lottery. Most BTC developers will fold. A few will be bankrupted, lose their families and collapse. And I will personally hunt every dev until they are broke, bankrupt and alone.
Stephan Livera 00:13:26
Wow, it’s very control. And so what’s the timeline here? So I was just looking on the website, it looks like he alleges that he lost access in 2020 and then, you know, this has been playing out for years now.
Jess Jonas 00:13:41
Right. So he brought a lawsuit. And the first thing that happened in the tool trading lawsuit was a jurisdictional challenge. So many of the developers who have been dragged into court in London do not live in the UK. Many of them are US resident. The test to exert jurisdiction over a foreign individual in the UK is very different than it is. In the US. And so the first thing that happened in that case was a jurisdictional challenge. Essentially, the defendant said, you do not have jurisdiction over us. You cannot sue us in the UK. And the lower court in response that jurisdictional challenge found in favor of the defendants and essentially said, you know, this case should be dismissed as against them, Tulip appealed that decision, and the appellate court found in a decision that came out earlier this year. And in fact there was jurisdiction. On the basis that the court thinks it’s an important question as to whether Bitcoin is indeed decentralized and open source, developers like these Bitcoin developers should know a fiduciary duty to people who use their code. So it was sort of, you know, typical of what you would see in a health decisions. So anyway, it survived the jurisdictional challenge essentially as a result of this appellate decision finding that it is an important question, I’m using. For quotes that the UK court should answer, and so now we are into the substantive case. So that’s when I why, when I said before, when a judge is reviewing a case and making a decision, summarily they are only able to make a decision based on the facts as alleged by the claimant. Now we’re in the substantive stage of the case, which means we’re actually. You know, going to fight about what are the facts and what law should apply to those facts.
Stephan Livera 00:15:32
I see and so. The actual trial is yet to occur, right? That’s in the future.
Jess Jonas 00:15:37
That’s right. I don’t know exactly when it would happen. It would certainly be in 2020. At the earliest in 2024, potentially 2025, but I’d say that’s sort of the outside window.
Stephan Livera 00:15:52
I say yeah, and I think people might also be curious, is there any relation between this case and what people might have seen? Other very publicized cases with involving Hodler North and with Peter McCormack. Is there any relation there or is it like a totally independent thing here?
Jess Jonas 00:16:07
These are these cases are totally independent of each other and the only relationship that exists. If you were to find one is that they were all essentially brought by the same person. Or representatives of the same person. It’s all being driven by Craig Wright, but that’s the only relationship there are. These places are not linked and they’re not formally related at all.
Stephan Livera 00:16:29
So it’s sort of I’m curious, does that play into well, could that play into the judges decision as well because he might see that this same individual is? Sort of going after all these people and claiming all kinds of, you know, big, making all these very big claims that, you know, it’s sort of difficult to believe all of these different claims, right?
Jess Jonas 00:16:51
Yeah, I mean I would hope that the judge would take into. Account the sort of Macro things that are going on, but. The judge is obligated to sort of review the case in front of him or her and right so you know, it would probably be somewhat inappropriate, but there are avenues to.
Stephan Livera 00:17:08
Right each case individually. OK.
Jess Jonas 00:17:16
Have a litigant declared an abuse of litigant, for example, in which case that would be taken into account and they would have a lot of trouble continuing to bring claims. I will say the system in the US is different in that abuse of litigants. It’s easier to essentially have somebody deemed an abusive litigant. It’s not what it’s called in the US, but you know, the judges might take that into account a little bit more freely than they seem to in the UK, the, the, the UK courts seem to. Give quite a lot of rope to claimants and it’s us, American. Attorneys find it somewhat flabbergasting how the system works over there. It just seems so different from our system, but at the same time, our system is overburdened so there just isn’t as much time. The dockets are overflowing. Maybe it’s different in the UK. Maybe there is the dockets are not overflowing like they are here?
Stephan Livera 00:18:17
Yeah, I see. And so bring you back to the open source licensing question and the MIT license you mentioned as well that there, you know there might be some implications there or it’s been said that there might be some implications there for other developers even for non-Bitcoin. What kind of what are those implications?
Jess Jonas 00:18:36
So, I this is a great moment to sort of transition away from Bitcoin for a moment and think about the wider and graver implications. If the English courts were to find that open-source developers code O of fiduciary duty to the users of their software. So, in practical terms, this could potentially mean that such developers could become fiduciaries to users of software that they contributed to. Without any formality or assumption of duty, it could mean that a developer could undertake such a role without knowledge of who their principles are and how many there are, or what jurisdictions they’re located. This is sort of unknown uncapped potential. Liability would certainly have a chilling effect on the willingness of software developers to agree to involve themselves in open-source projects going. Forward the risk would just be too high and you know, just as a reminder, I Always find having some numbers around this to be helpful 97% of the World software runs on open source, so you know the implications of this are extremely broad. To the world at large, if the potential downside for working on open-source software is that you could be dragged into court and a stranger could allege that you owe them some sort of duty and that you are obligated to save them or make them whole, or put yourself in front. Put your interest behind their interest. Would do it Right. What would be the? Point of taking that so you know, those are the potential implications for the fiduciary duty claim, but there also is a challenge to the MIT license here and in one of the other cases. That we’re fighting inherently there’s a challenge because Bitcoin was released under the MIT license. And the MIT license has some pretty strong protections, and I just want to read it because I think it’s important what the text of the license said says the software is provided as is without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to, the warranties of merchantability, fitness. For a particular purpose in non-infringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim damages or other liability, whether an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from out of or in connection with the software, or the use or other dealings in the software. So that’s a pretty strong license. And it is a very broadly used license in the open-source community. There are several open-source licenses, including the MIT license, and without the protections of these open source licenses like the MIT. Since again, people just would not take the risk, it would be too high to write open-source software, offer it to the public for free without any sort of protection for the work that you’re doing.
Stephan Livera 00:21:57
And in many cases, it’s volunteer work as well, so it’s important to point that out like in many cases, it’s unpaid work. So it’s sort of like a double whammy negative because you might be this unpaid volunteer developer trying to contribute to a project and then later. Some somewhere down the line somebody says hi. You made a mistake here or you did this thing wrong and not even a mistake. But just you didn’t do it the way I want it. And now reassigned things to me, right. It’s just completely breathtaking to see how far it’s even gotten. And I think especially in the case of someone like Craig Wright, I think a lot of Bitcoiners. Of, rightly or wrongly thought. Ohh, I’m just gonna push that out of my mind. I’m not gonna mention that because you know he’s crazy. I’m giving him ammunition, but then, well, unfortunately seems to happen. Is a lot of media just take him seriously and take his claims at face value that he is somehow? You know this authority or the, you know, and because in some sense he’s been out there unchallenged, right in the media, in the in the you know. And so, it’s a very tricky thing because people don’t want to stick their head above the parapet and, you know, risk getting shot. But they also don’t want to just leave him.
Jess Jonas 00:23:08
That’s exactly right. He’s a litigious guy who comes after people and he has been the prominent voice in this space, spinning his yarns, and you’re absolutely right. A lot of people don’t want to. Stick their head above the parapet and at the same time you know, I think there’s a level of laziness in the reporting about this as well. The information is all out there. It’s all public his claims have been discredited both in the Court of Law, in a case in Norway, as well as. Through the evidence being uncovered that it’s just impossible for what he says to be the case to be true. And so, you know, the information is out there, it just takes somebody, somebody just needs to read it and pay attention to understand that this is this, these claims have been disproven and will continue to be disproven. And if you, you know, it would be great to sort of not give. This fellow airtime, because he’s proven himself not to be worthy of. Our limited attention. But you know, regardless of the fact that these lawsuits are frivolous and these claims. He’s made have been. We have to take them seriously. Because what’s at stake in these cases and in other cases as well? Raising raises an existential threat to Bitcoin and open-source development more broadly. And if the UK court is willing to take his claim seriously, then we better be ready to fight back forcefully. I wish it weren’t the case that somebody could. Reap so much. Havoc and do so using what we believe to be. You know our judicial system, what we believe to be the thing that stands up high above everything else. That stands up for right and wrong and makes those decisions. But that’s what’s been happening and it will continue to happen. And so, we need to fight back and show once and for all that. Is this? This story is these allegations. These claims are not true. Stories are fabrications. They have been proven to be fabrications. They will continue to be proven to be fabrications. There’s no more room for this sort of abuse, why don’t we why don’t we spend time? On something more important.
Stephan Livera 00:25:36
And so, coming back to what I was, what we were talking about before the technical complexity and intricacies of this, maybe that’s also part of why it’s difficult for people to understand why it’s impossible and so then is there a bit of a luck of the draw aspect here that we’re hoping that the judge is a little more tech savvy? Been able to grasp the concepts. You know of what’s going on here with open source, how it works, and Bitcoin and hard forks and soft forks and how just the things that are being claimed or not, you know, either not possible or just not feasible in terms of what you know, quote UN quote should be happening.
Jess Jonas 00:26:15
I have faith that the judge will understand this part of our job is to give the information to the judge in a way that’s comprehensible and digestible, and so if we do our job, we believe that the judge will understand it and we’ll be able to make the right decision. On the real facts and that you know and we will come out victorious.
Stephan Livera 00:26:38
And I think the other aspect is I’m sure and I’m sure you’ll explain this in, in your defense as some comments related around soft forks and hard forks, but it just it seems I mean to some of us who are more, let’s say, in the Bitcoin world, it’s kind of breathtaking to think that this is that you would even think this is possible, right because obviously. Like pushing things to the limit. Hypothetically, even if a bunch of Bitcoin core developers said let’s just like. Put in some kind of you know, as you said, a back door or. Some kind of? Special hard fork to reallocate the access of coins from, you know, some people to another person. There’s no obligation that the network would run it, and so it clearly just, you know, there’s just no, it’s just infeasible. The very idea of it is infeasible. But I understand where let’s say. If, but you’re talking to a judge or somebody who’s not really in this world, and they sort of fooled by an overconfident person who says it’s possible, or that it is. Visible when in actuality it’s not.
Jess Jonas 00:27:35
So that’s why I was saying before the remedy that Tulpa is seeking in this case is fundamentally flawed. It is impossible for this remedy to be exacted, even if ordered by the court, even if even if, even if it’s not possible and the court cannot order. The whole world to run this fork right, everybody decides what type of Bitcoin software is the type for. Them it is not up to these developers or any other developers to make that decision for the public that uses Bitcoin, and I think that’s a fundamental misunderstanding and there has been, you know, some reporting recently about how Bitcoin works and you know. If there’s a group of Bitcoin and I Think as you’re saying, this is a complicated concept that’s not being explained in a way that the public can understand. But the point is, the take away is. As that these developers don’t quote UN quote control Bitcoin. In fact, nobody quotes UN quote controls Bitcoin. The people who quote UN quote control Bitcoin are the people who decide what type of Bitcoin software client they’re going to run, and that’s the story. So, if this backdoor is created. And it creates a fork of the network. People can decide to run that fork and that’ll be fine. People can decide to use a different fork and that’ll be fine, but there’s nothing that the court could do, or indeed the developers could do that could force everybody onto a different chain. That’s just not how. It’s just not how. The software works.
Stephan Livera 00:29:15
Right. Can you give us an idea of the cost of running this kind of defense? Is there like a ballpark figure you can give people or some context you can give for people to understand the costs involved?
Jess Jonas 00:29:29
So, for people who are unfamiliar with the courts in the system in the UK, it’s very different than the court system in the US in that there are two different types of lawyers in the UK there are solicitors and. There are barristers. So, in the US, if you’re sued, you need to hire a lawyer, and that person can appear in court on your behalf and argue your case from start to finish. You will pay one lawyer if you’re to follow maybe a few. But essentially you only need one in the UK, you need two lawyers, because only barristers can appear in court and solicitors are there to sort of liaise with the client and opposing counsel. So right off the bat, you’re necessarily paying for two individuals to represent you minimum. Also, in the UK they have what’s called the English rule. Which is essentially a fee shifting rule that we don’t have in the US. In the US, we have the American rule, which means everybody pays their own legal bills unless there’s. You know, some statute or contractual provision that requires otherwise in the UK they have a loser pays rule, which means that throughout the course of a case, there will be decisions where one party wins and the other party loses in, you know in, in whole or in part. And then the fees. So, throughout the case, fees are being sort of paid back and forth for services that have been performed to get up to that point. So, this is all to say that is an extremely expensive proposition to litigate in the UK and for any point of the case where you may be unsuccessful, you will be paying. A portion of the other sides fees for those minimum two lawyers that they need to have to represent them. Litigation that goes all the way through to trial. It’s in the many millions of dollars.
Stephan Livera 00:31:15
OK. And that’s financially and then of course, there’s an emotional or psychological stress or toll that it takes on the individuals and that’s also a difficult thing as well, because if you are a contributor and it’s you’re trying to, you know. The Bitcoin Code or other open-source code, while at the same time you have this legal battle hanging over your head, that’s another whole thing too.
Jess Jonas 00:31:39
And several developers who have been named in this case have said privately or publicly that they’re no longer going to work on the software. Because it’s just. Not worth it. So, as I said before, it has a chilling effect on the development of these important technologies. We’re already seeing it.
Stephan Livera 00:31:59
Yeah, and that’s a real shame. That’s all because in the. Bitcoin context, long time contributors’ knowledge is extremely valuable, right? So, this is one of those things where there are different projects where maybe newer individuals can come by and make certain contributions. But I think with Bitcoin, because of the accumulated history. And the way it works, technical complexity and the fact that the machine is, you know, they’re trying to change the plane while it’s in the air aspect, like the network is running, you can’t really take it down that it’s very difficult to find people who have built up enough time and knowledge about how the different aspects of the code work. And so that’s also another difficulty there. So certainly, would be good. If individuals can get defended or have community funded defense, or in this case looks like Jack and Alex and Malcolm have also helped fund. So, do you want to just talk a little bit about? If there’s any way for listeners to help or chip in.
Jess Jonas 00:32:59
So, we have been Community funding now. We’ve been doing it for a few weeks. We’ve been taking outside donations and we think we think it’s important. For people to. Have skin in the game. It isn’t so much about raising enough money to support the defense. All that would be terrific. It’s about making sure that the community. That cares about this that uses Bitcoin, that believes in the technology that believes in the importance of open source, has skin. In the game. Even if it’s $10, it’s important to buy into. What we’re doing? Because what we’re doing is really important and it’s important too. People who care about Bitcoin, who don’t care about Bitcoin, who like Bitcoin, who hate Bitcoin, it really has sort of existential it. It is an existential threat, and we need people to buy into what we’re doing. So that’s the reason why we’re fundraising and anybody who wants to contribute. You would be grateful for your contributions. You can contribute via Bitcoin or Fiat on our website, which is bitcoin defense.org. And you know. We just are happy to have people supporting what we’re doing supporting these devs and their fight for what’s right.
Stephan Livera 00:34:13
Actually, one other area just to touch on. There’s as I understand, there’s another case, the database rights case. So do you want to just quickly overview that as well? Although of course it involves the same individual, Craig. Right. Could you just give us an? Overview There briefly.
Jess Jonas 00:34:28
So, this is a case which correct right is bringing his individual capacity against a similar group of Bitcoin developers as well as some institutions, so. Coin Base is also named as a defendant in this case, as is block, as is Copa Block stream and some others. So, in this case, Wright is alleging that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. So, in this case, he’s alleging that he’s Satoshi Nakamoto. The synonymous creator of Bitcoin, and that is consequence that he’s claiming that he owns the copyright in the Bitcoin White paper and the database rights in the Bitcoin blog. Machine database rights are a type of obscure property right that we don’t have in the US, but in any event, he’s claiming that his copyright and database rights are being breached and seeking injunctive relief to prevent certain developers and exchanges and intermediaries which he considers are responsible for Bitcoin from continuing to work on Bitcoin without obtaining a license from him. To do so now this case is in very early stages. We’ve only just filed our defense in this case, about a month ago, and there are several things going and the other defendants in this case, not all of them have filed their defenses yet. So, it’s still, as I said, very early stages. There are a few different things going on in this case, but one thing that I think is important to point out is that when Satoshi Nakamoto first released Bitcoin, they did so under the MIT license. So, you know there I think there are quite a few factual and legal frailties in this. Case and this is something we talked about a little bit already, but you know Even so, even though Bitcoin was originally released under the MIT license and now Wright is claiming that to continue working on Bitcoin or using Bitcoin, people need to obtain a different license directly from him. Even though that claim seems pretty ludicrous given the known facts, the developers and other industry participants are being put to significant expense of having to respond to these claims. And respond they. Must in order to protect the industry at large.
Stephan Livera 00:36:43
OK. So, it just seems like all these crazy claims and kind of a lot of the same material that we spoke about earlier about things that are just not feasible and not realistic and just not in line with the facts and the history of what things were, how things were put into, you know, the Commons right in the, in the open source. And so yeah, certainly probably a lot of the same kind of pieces talking points arguments will apply. But also, a lot more cost I’m sure so. OK. Well, I think, yeah, I think those are probably the key points. Do you have any, I guess, kind of closing thoughts for listeners there and we’ll, we’ll. Leave it there.
Jess Jonas 00:37:23
Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for supporting us. I think what we’re doing is important. I think it’s important to make sure that the court systems are used. Good and not ill, and that we support people who are doing the important work of building free open-source software for the public. I think it’s important to remember that in the US, software is protected speech. So, what we’re fighting for here is not just Bitcoin. It’s not just open-source software development, it’s for. Fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech.
Stephan Livera 00:37:56
Excellent. Well, yeah, listen, as I’ll make sure I’ll put the links in the show notes. It’s Bitcoin defence.org and Jess, thank you for joining me and helping explain what’s going on here.
Jess Jonas 00:38:04
Thank you so much for having me.