On this episode of the CoinGeek Weekly Livestream, John “Jack” Pitts talks to Kurt Wuckert Jr. about COPA v Wright and its implications. It was a high-level overview of the case and what it could mean for BSV blockchain and the industry as a whole.
Who is Jack Pitts?
Pitts is a familiar face to most in the BSV blockchain ecosystem. He’s the co-founder of SLictionary and has appeared on many podcasts to talk about his self-learning dictionary app as well as Bitcoin, the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, and more.
Pitts is also a veteran stock picker with a history going back to before the Dotcom era. As such, he’s seen it all before and has previously expressed his belief that ‘crypto’ is one of the biggest bubbles of all time but that real utility will emerge from it in the form of BSV blockchain and all it enables.
What is COPA vs. Wright? What’s it all about?
COPA is the Crypto Open Patent Alliance. The COPA v Wright court case is all about one thing: Who is the issuer of Bitcoin?
Pitts says he has been following Jack Dorsey for a long time and admires the problems he solved with Square and then Cash App. He believes Dorsey wants to upend Visa (NASDAQ: V) and Mastercard (NASDAQ: MA), and he has a good strategy for doing so, but Bitcoin is a problem since it eliminates the need for trusted third parties altogether.
Pitts says the Lightning Network is a recreation of Visa/Mastercard on Bitcoin. Dorsey knows this, and if he can run the biggest Lightning Node, he can achieve his goal and become one of the richest men on earth. This is what COPA is all about—attempting to take away Dr. Wright’s rights as the issuer of Bitcoin by proving he either isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto or was only one of a larger team.
To those who say Dr. Wright is vain or is seeking attention, Pitts says the opposite is true. Everything about him suggests he’d prefer to be anonymous, and it wasn’t until 2019 that he actually said it was him without reservation. Wuckert agrees, saying he has seen internal emails and other documents suggesting Wired/Gizmodo doxxed Dr. Wright.
Why would Dr. Wright be so nonchalant about proving he is Satoshi until now? Pitts looks back to the Wright brothers. They knew anyone could copy their plane design, so they let the world think what it wanted until they had their patents in place. There are also all the legal reasons to consider; he could have faced trouble due to the WikiLeaks and Silk Road stuff. This is all part of why he handed over the project and slipped into the background.
What’s the entanglement between COPA players? What’s the motive?
Pitts bluntly answers this: If Dr. Wright and the original Bitcoin win, then everything else loses. There aren’t 75 metals used as money, and there will only be one global money that comes out of the digital currency industry. Bitcoin, which is backed by computation and data, will win, Pitts believes.
Why are Dorsey, Zuckerberg, and other big players from Web 2.0 involved? They’re afraid to lose control. Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) is involved because it won’t have anything to trade if Bitcoin swallows everything up. All of these players fear the issuer rights Dr. Wright has, such as control of the Bitcoin name and database. Issuers also have certain rights, like ensuring there’s an alert key in the system and stolen coins can be recovered.
“You’re either team Satoshi or team Zuckerberg,” Wuckert says, summarizing the issue nicely.
Aside from all of this, there’s also some political ideology involved. Anarchists think patents are BS and that the creators of intellectual property have no rights over it. However, that’s not fair, and Pitts gives the example of someone working hard for a decade to create a cure for bone cancer—surely they should benefit from it, such as by having the multi-year head-start that patents provide. Information is valuable, and we should have the right to protect it.
Can COPA drop the case if they realize they can’t prove Dr. Wright isn’t Satoshi?
They can, but if they lose, Dr. Wright will have the issuer rights they fear. Pitts reiterates his stance that this case isn’t about changing public opinion, and it likely won’t do so even if Dr. Wright wins.
However, if he does win, he can do many things, like telling Coinbase to stop using the name Bitcoin and/or charging a licensing fee for the database.
Due to this, they’re not likely to stop the case as it’s exactly these rights they seek to stop Dr. Wright from having. Painting him as a fraud will also make it harder to enforce his many patents. If they can prove he either isn’t Satoshi or is only part of the team, he won’t have the issuer rights, and so they’re likely to push as hard for that as they can.
What if Dr. Wright loses? What does it mean for us?
Pitts is confident he’s going to win. He points to new evidence that has come to light, including old hard drives with early copies of the white paper and Bitcoin code pre-dating its release. There’s probably other evidence on there, too, but we’ll have to wait and see.
A screenshot from 03/01/2009 (same date as genesis block) Satoshi used it on the https://t.co/vHR5kDNlYV homepage.
— Ryuushi (@_electronicCash) October 19, 2023
If the new disk hasn’t been opened other than for forensics, then COPA’s team is going to have a hard time. This, along with Dr. Wright’s other evidence, makes it difficult for him to lose.
However, Pitts points out that anything can happen in court, and a loss for Dr. Wright would be a problem. Money for BSV blockchain projects, which is already tight, will dry up even more. We can only hope he wins.
Why is ‘Big Tech’ so threatened by Bitcoin?
Pitts answers that Elon Musk said it best: Why shouldn’t you be able to post on social media and earn money instantly? As things stand, Zuckerberg and friends own the data and take the lion’s share of the revenue. Bitcoin flips the economics in favor of creators. For example, at SLictionary, the creators get 70%. This is an obvious threat to companies like Meta and their huge profits.
Is Gary Gensler stopping a Bitcoin ETF because of COPA v Wright?
Pitts doesn’t think so. He puts it down to the rampant fraud and price manipulation in the industry. He doesn’t think any SEC Chairperson would approve one until Binance, Bitfinex, Tether, and other rogue actors in the industry are gone. We need market-driven prices before there’s any chance the SEC will approve a Bitcoin ETF.
To hear more about Dr. Wright stomping the hard drive with his Bitcoin keys, Satoshi’ Nakamoto’s return to X, establishing his identity the proper way, and more, tune in to the CoinGeek Weekly Livestream episode via this link.
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