The Kleiman v Wright trial is now close to a conclusion. It has been an interesting and insightful journey so far, and since the beginning, Florida-based lawyer Peter Tragos has been sharing his thoughts on how things are unfolding.
The self-professed digital currency and blockchain novice has been sharing weekly updates summarizing the proceedings. This week, he was joined by CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr. for an on-air discussion of week 3.
The origins of digital cash systems & Satoshi Nakamoto
After briefly introducing Kurt Wuckert Jr. to his audience, Peter Tragos invited him to explain a little about the history of Bitcoin. Maintaining that he knows little about it, this was a chance for Tragos and his audience to hear about the history of Bitcoin from an expert on the subject.
Kurt rightly pointed out that digital cash systems go back to the 1970s. There were many attempts to create them before, but none succeeded or lasted long until Bitcoin.
Getting straight into the history, Kurt explained how there was much theorizing about who Satoshi Nakamoto could be from the outset. He explained how in 2015, Wired and Gizmodo both doxxed Dr. Craig Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto. They also mentioned Dave Kleiman, sowing the seeds for the current lawsuit Kleiman v Wright trial.
Briefly covering the Bitcoin civil war, Kurt informed Tragos that the community largely rejected Dr. Wright as a fraud because they didn’t like what he had to say. Being a big blocker who believes Bitcoin scales infinitely on-chain, many of the crypto-anarchists who hijacked Bitcoin in the early days could not accept Dr. Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto.
What does the Kleiman vs. Wright case mean for Bitcoin?
Asking how the plaintiffs plan to collect if they win and how that would even be possible, Kurt informed Tragos about some of the nuances of the case. At stake are:
- The $65 billion worth of Bitcoin and IP.
- What have the plaintiffs seen to urge them to spend tens of millions in legal fees and years of time?
- Is Dr. Wright really Satoshi Nakamoto, and what evidence does he have if so?
There’s no doubt that the case will have massive implications for Bitcoin. Either Dr. Wright is its creator, in which case he is the greatest authority on Bitcoin, or he’s not, which would mean the end of the road for this narrative.
Collectability and keys are not identity
Pressing the issue of how the plaintiffs plan to collect, Tragos said he isn’t sure the U.S. legal system is sophisticated enough to deal with this. If Dr. Wright doesn’t want to pay at the end, how would the courts make him?
At this point, Kurt explained Dr. Wright’s long-held position that you don’t need keys to move Bitcoin and that miners can be compelled by law to update the ledger. Bitcoin is subject to the law and does not exist outside it, Kurt explained, and the idea that laws are not enforceable on Bitcoin is a myth.
Of course, Kurt pointed out that there could be a chain split with some miners refusing to comply. However, if this occurs, they will eventually figure out that they’re mining on the minority chain and are losing money, and they’ll switch back. This is how Bitcoin was designed to work, he informed Tragos, and regulated entities will follow the law.
Tragos then asked Kurt whether the assets could be frozen by governments. “I don’t see why not,” Kurt replied, pointing out that governments brought down Liberty Reserve and other allegedly decentralized systems.
What are the sides of Bitcoin? The civil war
Tragos asked Kurt to explain the sides of Bitcoin more. He mentioned that he was accused of being biased by one side and that the other thanked him for being unbiased, which he was confused by. He later said that he was shocked by the intensity of the tribalism in Bitcoin.
Briefly covering the Bitcoin civil war between small blockers and big blockers, Kurt explained the history of the fight for Bitcoin and how one side wants to limit Bitcoin at 1MB block size and shackle it. In contrast, the other wants to liberate it and follow Satoshi’s original vision for unlimited scaling and a global economic tool and computation system.
“Our goal in BSV, in short, is to replace the internet with Bitcoin,” Wuckert said.
Explaining how Bitcoin made micropayments possible and how much of the original functionality was stripped out, Kurt elaborated on how the narrative changed from Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer cash system to it being an investment asset. Pointing out the irony of this case being about fraud when Bitcoin was designed to be an anti-fraud tool, Kurt informed Tragos of how it could work to make cases like this much easier to solve in the future.
Refocusing on the case—do the plaintiffs have any evidence?
Tragos asked Kurt whether he had seen anything that would hint that Ira Kleiman had a case, and Kurt said no, although he admitted his bias in favor of Dr. Wright.
While Kurt may indeed be biased, an objective analysis of the situation reveals this statement is true. Bizarrely, the plaintiffs seem to have spent the first two weeks using emails as evidence before pointing out that they may be forged, undermining their own body of evidence for a partnership between Kleiman and Wright.
Kurt then went on to explain how the defense has made a solid case so far that there was no partnership. He pointed out that all of the circumstantial evidence comes after Dave Kleiman died and that Dave’s close friend in Florida swore under oath that he could not code and did not even mention Bitcoin in the final years of his life.
Tragos, as a professional lawyer, emphasized that he doesn’t believe sympathy will win the day for the plaintiff. He said that in his experience, juries don’t look fondly on litigious, absentee brothers.
While Dave Kleiman’s will does name Ira as the sole beneficiary, Kurt pointed out that the evidence shows that the relationship between the two was one of estrangement. Ira Kleiman was absent in the last days of his brother’s life, and Dr. Wright didn’t even know he existed despite having a close friendship with Dave.
Is Dr. Craig Wright really Satoshi?
Nearing the end of the one-on-one part of the discussion, Tragos asked Kurt outright if he believes Dr. Wright is Satoshi.
Pointing out that he initially wasn’t sure what role Dave Kleiman played, Kurt told Tragos that he believes that it’s much more likely than not that Dr. Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Why so? For Kurt, it comes down to the fact that Dr. Wright knows things about Bitcoin that only Satoshi could know and the coding style of Bitcoin, which matches an academic, old-fashioned style rather than that of a commercial coder. Dr. Wright fits this profile perfectly.
Asking why the debate is so heated in Bitcoin about whether or not Dr. Wright is Satoshi, Tragos explained how he is taken aback by some of the replies in his videos. Kurt tells him that he believes Dr. Wright is an existential threat to the wealth of many of the people who got “really rich by accident,” hence the intensity of the campaign against him.
It was another informative and eye-opening video from Peter Tragos this week, and we look forward to him covering week four. This week should be the most revealing of all, with Dr. Wright taking the stand once again to be directly examined by the defense.
Will we know for sure that Dr. Wright is Satoshi by the end of this week? Stay tuned for real-time coverage.
CoinGeek features Kurt Wuckert Jr. in recap coverage which will be livestreamed daily at 6:30 p.m. EST on our YouTube Channel.
Check out all of the CoinGeek special reports on the Kleiman v Wright YouTube playlist.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.