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UK Court Orders Bitcoin.org to Remove White Paper Following Craig Wright Lawsuit

The judge had no option but to rule a default judgment because Cobra chose not to make an appearance, according to Wright's representation.

Jun 29, 2021 at 7:10 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:18 p.m. UTC

Cobra, the pseudonymous operator of the Bitcoin.org website, has been ordered by London's High Court to discontinue hosting its copy of the Bitcoin white paper.

Citing copyright infringement brought forward by nChain Chief Scientist Craig Wright, the judge had no option but to rule a default judgment because Cobra chose not to make an appearance, Wright's representation, Ontier LLP, said via a statement on Monday.

Judge David Hodge, QC issued an injunction prohibiting Cobra from infringing Wright's copyright in the U.K., either through making the white paper accessible for download on the website or "in any other way."

An order requiring bitcoin.org to publish a copy of the court's order was also issued while an inquiry will be established to determine the damages caused by Cobra against Wright, Ontier said.

Bitcoin.org is an independent open-source project that aims to support Bitcoin development. The website and its operator have been embroiled in a sparing of legal threats.

Proceedings were issued on Feb. 24 of this year in the Intellectual Property List of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. In April, Wright was granted permission to serve Cobra and sought a declaration that he owns the copyright to the Bitcoin white paper, claiming Cobra was infringing his rights.

Since at least the start of this year, the website has said that it believes Wright’s claims are “without merit” and has refused to take the paper down. Ontier said Wright did not wish to restrict access to "his" paper but instead he did not agree with its use by supporters and developers of "alternative assets."

“... To promote or otherwise misrepresent those assets as being Bitcoin given that they do not support or align with the vision for Bitcoin as he set out in his White Paper,” said Simon Cohen, senior associate at Ontier.

Wright purports to be Bitcoin's creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Though the true identity of Nakamoto has never been revealed, Wright's attempt to threaten those disseminating the white paper runs contrary to the spirit of Bitcoin, said Cobra on Tuesday.

“What is especially concerning is when monikers like @CobraBitcoin make big, public statements about coming to court to confirm their comments about me and Bitcoin but, inevitably, then, evade the reality," Wright told CoinDesk via email. "Moreover, they have also directly asked for donations to said court case. I would hope that any funds donated will be duly returned by @CobraBitcoin or at least declared as income for tax purposes."

Cobra defended his choice not to appear in court, telling CoinDesk via Twitter:

"Unfortunately, the court rules allowed for me to be sued pseudonymously, however, I couldn't defend myself pseudonymously. So I was put in an impossible situation of losing my privacy or losing the case in a default judgment. It sucks, but there's nothing more I could have done, really."

UPDATE (June 29, 2021, 9:34 UTC): Adds comments from both Cobra and Craig Wright.

UPDATE (July 6, 2021, 23:58 UTC): Corrects copy to reflect Cobra as Bitcoin.org's operator, not its creator as originally reported.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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