In a significant legal development, the UK High Court has rejected an appeal that aimed to protect the anonymity of the pseudonymous operator behind Bitcoin.org, known as Cøbra. This decision, reached on Monday ordered the anonymous operator to pay Dr. Craig Wright a sum of £500,000 (US$640,000).
The Copyright Battle
The legal battle began in 2021 when Dr. Craig Wright, claiming to be the author of the Bitcoin white paper, took legal action against various entities hosting the document. He argued that this constituted copyright infringement and warned of potential legal consequences for non-compliance.
Bitcoin.org, primarily serving as a platform to guide users on purchasing Bitcoin (BTC), became a target in this endeavor. In response to Dr. Wright’s lawsuit, Cøbra, the pseudonymous operator of the website, initially adopted a defiant stance on social media.
As the legal battle progressed, however, it became evident that Cøbra had no intention of revealing their identity. This reluctance led to a summary judgment by default in favor of Dr. Wright, effectively recognizing his copyright in the Bitcoin white paper based on a past Coindesk report.
The Legal Costs Dispute
With the copyright matter settled, the focus shifted to determining how much of Dr. Wright’s legal costs Cøbra must bear as the losing party. Here, a fundamental issue emerged — Cøbra’s anonymity. They sought to participate in the cost dispute without revealing their identity, leading to a legal standoff according to Coingeek.
As a result, the UK High Court’s decision rested on the principle of open justice, a cornerstone of the legal system. It maintains that court proceedings should be transparent and accessible to the public and media. Moreover, it stipulates that the identities of those involved in a case should be public knowledge.
This turned the subsequent judgment in favor of Wright, which ordered Cøbra to fork out £500,000 (US$640,000) as payment for the legal costs incurred by the plaintiff.
Dr. Craig Wright’s Perspective
Wright welcomed the court’s ruling, emphasizing the importance of open justice in upholding the rule of law. He noted that Cøbra’s disregard for these principles came at a cost. This decision appears to put an end to Cøbra’s attempts to remain anonymous throughout the legal proceedings.
The Prolonged Legal Battle
Despite professing to stand up for Satoshi’s white paper, Cøbra’s actions tell a different story. Instead of revealing their identity and defending their position from the outset, Cøbra chose a different path.
This reluctance, which led to multiple appeals, ultimately seems driven by motives other than upholding the principles of the crypto industry.
The UK High Court’s rejection of Cøbra’s appeal underscores the fundamental importance of open justice in legal proceedings. It reaffirms that parties involved in legal disputes must identify themselves, aligning with the principles of transparency and accountability.
This decision appears to bring an end to a prolonged legal battle that revolved around the Bitcoin white paper’s copyright. Dr. Craig Wright can now proceed with efforts to recover his legal costs from the operator of Bitcoin.org.
It should be noted though that the contested Bitcoin white paper is still hosted on Bitcoin.org as of this writing.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.