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Craig Wright’s Bitcoin Copyright Claim Rejected by UK Court – Here’s What Happened

Fredrik Vold
Last updated: | 2 min read
Craig Wright. Source: a video screenshot, Youtube, CoinGeek

Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist and self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto, has had a copyright claim for Bitcoin rejected by a London court, with the judge saying the subject matter “is not expressed or fixed anywhere.”

In the court ruling, Judge James Mellor noted that Bitcoin can’t be treated as literary work and protected by copyright because of its “file format” with digital transactions that combine to form blocks in a blockchain.

“[…] there is no evidence that the Bitcoin File Format is set out in any part of the software or early blocks written to the Bitcoin Blockchain, as opposed to the Bitcoin Software simply reading and writing files in that format,” the judge wrote.

He added that because the Bitcoin File Format has not been expressed and explained in an appropriate manner by the claimant, it cannot be protected by copyright:

“I do not see any prospect of the law as currently stated and understood in the case law allowing copyright protection of subject matter which is not expressed or fixed anywhere.”

The ruling reiterated several times that no work that describes Bitcoin’s unique file format has been seen by the court, despite the fact that Wright was given “ample opportunity” to provide this.

“It remains the case that no relevant ‘work’ has been identified containing content which defines the structure of the Bitcoin File Format,” Judge Mellor wrote in the ruling, before concluding:

“If, as I have found, there is no serious issue to be tried, I see no reason why any of the Defendants should be burdened with this particular claim.”

Not the first time Wright loses in court

The latest ruling from the UK is far from the first time Craig Wright has gone to court to assert his claim that he is the creator of Bitcoin and the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper.

In a separate case involving Craig Wright and the popular bitcoiner Hodlonaut held in Norway late last year, the court noted that “the prevailing opinion in the media” has been, and still is, that “Wright is unlikely to be Satoshi Nakamoto.”

Based on this, the ruling from the Norwegian court made it clear that anyone who publicly questions Wright’s claim to be Satoshi is protected by free speech laws.

“Against this background, the court believes that [Hodlonaut] had sufficient factual grounds to claim that Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto in March 2019 […] Wright has come out with a controversial claim, and must withstand criticism from dissenters,” the ruling said.