The Bitcoin community is debating the extent to which Bitcoin Core developers and maintainers should shoulder the symbolic burden of maintaining its white paper, especially in doing so that could save their time and finances unnecessarily.
The question arose after a Bitcoin white paper was pulled down from Bitcoincore.org, a canonical repository for Bitcoin software and educational resources such as Satoshi’s 10-page thesis, following legal threats of copyright infringement by nChain Chief Scientist Craig Wright.
Wright, who has made a career in his assertion that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, also helped spawn Bitcoin Vision (BSV) Bitcoin fork Satoshi.
Related: Bitcoin Core Lead Hosts Step Back, Encourages Devolution
Bitcoin’s white paper, entitled “Bitcoin: A Cash-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” was published by Satoshi Nakamoto under MIT’s public license in 2008 and is widely distributed in many forms worldwide. Wright has filed a copyright claim and that claim has been processed, but is still open to challenge.
But it’s not a matter of whether merit is its legal weight: Wright is no stranger to lawsuits and has 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 vigorous (but expensive) lawsuits with a show of strength, or whether to sidestep the problem entirely by removing the white paper – which exists in many corners from the web anyway – is a smarter path for Bitcoincore.org to follow.
While Bitcoincore.org’s carers scoured the white paper from the site, Bitcoin.org, the other site in the eyes of the lawsuit, has not yet removed the white paper.
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In terms of functionality versus the keynote, as ever, Bitcoin’s open source community is at odds with itself.
No harm, no mess
A prolific Bitcoin contributor, Gregory Maxwell, for example, is at the camp arguing that maintaining the white paper on the Bitcoin Core website carries unneeded legal and financial risk to the Bitcoin Core developers who host the site.
“It’s not needed right now: The bitcoin white paper is already all over the place, it’s on dozens of websites, it’s in the Bitcoin blockchain and with publicity for this nonsense it’s going to be in 1,000 more places. ”
The fuss over digital paper, Maxwell points out, not even the Bitcoin code itself, which will choke on, is completely unaffected by the brouhaha.
“Perhaps Wright could abuse the legal system to download a copy, or even pull down bitcoincore.org altogether (maybe even bitcoin.org altogether). And what effect would that have on Bitcoin? NO. No effect at all. What effect would it have on the availability of the white paper? If anything, he would do it more available. But even if he did manage to get rid of the white paper all sites – absolute impossibility – what would that do to Bitcoin? Still nothing. ”
He added that instead of distracting Bitcoin engineers with years of hearings and lawsuits costing millions of dollars, it would be better to allow them freedom to continue their important work maintaining Bitcoin. He cites the McCormack and other cases as evidence that Wright has enough money to throw in court hearings that he goes nowhere (and has even failed to pay restitution under a legal order after losing the fight this, Maxwell said in the post).
A matter of principle and pride
Responding to Maxwell’s post, Cobra, a pseudonym developer who runs the Bitcoin.org website, disagrees with Maxwell’s conclusion that “this is not the right fight.” Where Maxwell thinks it would be a weakness to engage with Wright, Cobra believes there is also a denial of demand.
“As far as Greg is concerned, I think the Bitcoin Core project that puts into unreasonable demands that a lack of merit is a bad thing, and does not instill confidence in the soundness of the project to social and legal attacks,” Cobra told CoinDesk over direct message.
Cobra told CoinDesk that developers are ready to go to court to fight Wright’s “nonsense” allegations if necessary.
Can’t sue ’em all
Other Bitcoiners, in response to a post by Bitcoin Core’s main host, Wladimir van der Laan (@orionwl), were more sympathetic.
“Y’all made the right decision,” responded Pierre Rochard, co-founder of the Nakamoto Institute and Bitcoin Strategist in Kraken. “Thank you for your excellent stewardship of the project.”
Bitcoin Devolution Core
Still, some suggested that van der Laan and other Bitcoin Core developers who prefer to avoid legal conflicts should hand over the Bitcoincore.org domain to someone willing to bear the weight of potential lawsuit litigation.
In a blog post yesterday, the chief host of Bitcoin Core made it clear that in his view this goes beyond the argument for the white paper being pulled down which, in itself, is likely to be a battle that will require broader support than that one person. he could handle alone.
Indeed, it had already begun to consider “downsizing [his] take part ”in the open source project ahead of this week’s events.
The “social media responses” to Bitcoincore.org listing the white paper he writes in the post “made me realize that people have strange expectations of me, and what my role is in the project Bitcoin Core. ”
Van der Laan will resign as chairman of weekly Bitcoin Core meetings. For the rest of the post, he offers ways to further decentralize Bitcoin software development and distribution.
“Some arrangements that were acceptable for a small-scale FOSS project are no longer so for one running a 600 billion dollar system. The market cap is notoriously fraudulent, but my point is not about specific numbers here, ”he writes.
“This is a serious project now, and we need to start taking devolution seriously.”