Craig Wright’s attempt to copyright the bitcoin white paper is a bold, if silly, move by a person who may be both of those things.
Copyright registration is a simple way of claiming ownership of a literary work, song, or piece of art. I could, for example, claim copyright over my exciting new musical “Bitcoin White Paper LIVE!” (shown below), a theatrical rendition of Satoshi Nakamoto’s seminal writing in the style of Rogers and Hammerstein. But should I?
No. That would be silly.
Clearly, Wright thought he should. As revealed Tuesday, in April he filed registrations of the white paper with the U.S. Copyright Office on behalf of, we learned, the Bitcoin Association and the suddenly popular BSV token.
To be fair, there’s a certain game-theoretical logic to Wright’s move. Suppose (humor me here) Wright is Satoshi, as he has claimed for years. Then his copyright should hold up against any court challenge, settling once and for all the question of who Satoshi is… right?
If Wright isn’t Satoshi and the real Satoshi wants to claim copyright, she still would have to go to court and exhibit prior proof of authorship, which Twitter pumpers will say is also good for bitcoin somehow.
Finally, if Satoshi never shows up then Wright can do what he wants with the copyright, including sue others for infringement, who might then file countersuits to stop Wright from enforcing copyright.
Any of these scenarios will lead to little more than a few additional exciting headlines about bitcoin ownership in the mainstream media. We folks in the know will nod sagely and go on with our lives.
Speaking of nodding sagely, Star Wars fans will recognize this as an excellent opportunity to leave the old ways behind.
Just as a bolt of lightning destroyed the original Jedi texts in that tree on Blue Milk Island while Yoda hooted in ghost form, the same thing is now happening to the legend of Satoshi. Her technology and concepts have moved far beyond the desires and whims of one anonymous author, Australian or not, and so we enter a new, post-Satoshi era today.
In fact, Satoshi no longer matters. Any way you slice this thala-siren bologna, we win.