Breaking news: a British judge has effectively banned Bitcoin’s celebrated whitepaper from being made public to UK users on the Bitcoin.org website.
The decision was made as part of Craig Wright’s lawsuit against Bitcoin.org.
Bitcoin’s website: latest news on the publication of the whitepaper
The Bitcoin.org website is actually not the official Bitcoin website, but only because there is no official Bitcoin website.
The bitcoin.org domain was registered directly by Satoshi Nakamoto in August 2008, which is when the very famous whitepaper had not even been published yet, so it is what comes closest to being Bitcoin‘s official website, despite formally not being it.
However, Bitcoin is an open and public protocol without an owner, so much so that even the website created directly by Satoshi Nakamoto cannot be called “official.”
Nevertheless, it would be more than logical that at least the Bitcoin whitepaper be published on this website.
Crypto news: Bitcoin’s whitepaper
The term “whitepaper” is not actually perfectly appropriate to define the document with which Satoshi Nakamoto presented the Bitcoin protocol on 31 October 2008, but by now everything calls it that.
Nakamoto announced it on the Cryptography Mailing List on that very date explicitly writing that it was a PDF downloadable from Bitcoin.org.
So it really makes no sense that that PDF should not be hosted and posted on that website.
It is worth remembering that that PDF contained the entire initial Bitcoin protocol, although over the next few years this has then undergone some rare modifications.
Craig Wright’s lawsuit
Several years ago Craig Wright self-described himself as the real Satoshi Nakamoto, and sued the operators of the Bitcoin.org website.
If he were the real Satoshi it would mean that he created that website, but he does not control it and to date he appears to be absolutely unrelated to that website.
The complaint was filed for copyright infringement, since Wright claims to be the author of that whitepaper and to not authorize Bitcoin.org not to publish it. Wright, however, admits that he is not the owner of Bitcoin.org.
The problem is that the site’s operators chose anonymity, hiding behind the pseudonym Cøbra, refusing to identify themselves to the UK court. This prevented them from participating in the legal proceedings, and led to their defeat.
In fact, the judge ruled in favor of Craig Wright on the basis that an anonymous defendant cannot make submissions without revealing himself, and citing the 2016 UK Supreme Court decision of R (at the request of C) v. Secretary of State for Justice.
Craig Wright’s non-victory
Therefore, the ban on publishing the whitepaper on the Bitcoin.org website is not an acknowledgement of Craig Wright’s copyright in that document, but only an acknowledgement of the defeat of Cøbra who chose to remain anonymous.
The assumption is that Wright’s goal was precisely to get Cøbra to come out of the closet, and that perhaps now the anonymous operator of the site might be better off letting himself be identified. Not least because the conviction also requires Bitcoin.org to pay Wright’s court costs of £500,000 ($640,000).
It is hardly the case that Cøbra is Satoshi Nakamoto, however, since Satoshi has been completely missing for more than a decade. Indeed, it is precisely because of his disappearance that ownership of Bitcoin.org probably passed to others, but it certainly did not pass to Craig Wright.
In 2021, Craig Wright’s partner Calvin Ayre wrote on Twitter that the lawsuit against Bitcoin.org would force Cøbra to reveal himself, and he responded that he would defend Satoshi’s whitepaper at all costs.
At the time, Ayre rather explicitly suggested that the copyright of that whitepaper was Wright’s, but apparently the judge in this respect did not agree with the self-styled Satoshi (aka Faketoshi).
However, the fact remains that it is still possible to download the mythical original PDF at the url bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.