Written by Tom Synott | February 28, 2023
Following from our recent blog, Bitcoin remains a hot topic.
In a recent case, Wright and others v. BTC Core and others  EWHC 222 (Ch) has just ruled on whether copyright could subsist in the Bitcoin file format.
This case is the culmination of a series of actions bought by Dr Craig Wright in the English High Court regarding his status as the purported inventor of Bitcoin.
Mr Wright alleges that he was the original author of both: i) the “Bitcoin Whitepaper” (the original thesis paper for Bitcoin written under the name “Satoshi Nakomoto” which many people believe is a pseudonym); and ii) the file format used to create blocks on the Bitcoin block chain.
As part of his claim, Mr Wright’s position is that his rights have been infringed by two parallel types of Bitcoin systems (the BTC Blockchain and the BCH Blockchain). The recent ruling related to an early procedural step in the case where Mr Wright is seeking permission to serve the case on the owners of these systems who are based outside of England and Wales.
Whilst considering this request, the High Court felt it appropriate to issue a preliminary decision on whether the copyright could subsist in the Bitcoin file format at all: it felt that it could not. This is because for a work to attract copyright under English law, it must be both original and fixed in a manner which makes it identifiable.
Whilst the first limb of the test was met (i.e. for creativity), the Court ultimately ruled that the Bitcoin format itself was inherently not fixed but, by its very nature, a component part of a wider structure and therefore could not attract copyright in and of itself.
It should be noted that this specific aspect of the ruling only relates to a preliminary step in the overall case and Dr Wright has indicated his intention to appeal. Stay tuned for further developments including a much anticipated decision as to whether Dr Wright was indeed the mysterious Satoshi Nakomoto who invented Bitcoin.
Here at Briffa the team benefits from over 25 years’ experience in defending and bringing copyright claims in virtually every jurisdiction in the world. If you need any further information in this regard, please do feel free to get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Tom Synott – Senior Associate
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