The London High Court ruled that the Bitcoin.org owner, Cøbra, must reveal their identity to contest the legal costs demanded by Craig Wright in an ongoing court case. The presiding judge, Jason Rowley, says Cøbra can request anonymization. However, since Craig Wright is the claimant, that would not prevent him from learning Cøbra’s identity – and potentially revealing it to the world.
“I accept that that does not generally prevent the opponent from knowing who the party is, but that is the extent to which a party can be involved in proceedings and limit their identification,” Rowley wrote when making his ruling.
Cøbra has been highly critical of both Craig Wright and the legal system, saying that justice depends on “who’s got the bigger wallet.”
Craig Wright claims to be the creator of Bitcoin, who used the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. Cøbra is a similar pseudonym used by the person who currently controls the first Bitcoin-related website.
Cøbra maintains that Satoshi Nakamoto originally uploaded the Bitcoin whitepaper to Bitcoin.org, effectively giving it publication rights to the whitepaper. Wright alleges that Bitcoin.org’s continued publication of the whitepaper infringes on his copyright protections.
The London High Court permitted Craig Wright to serve papers to Cøbra, assuming, of course, that Cøbra could be found. It issued a default judgment ordering Cøbra to take down the whitepaper when Cøbra failed to appear in June.
Cøbra claims he was in the courtroom; however, the anonymous person did not provide a legal defense. The Bitcoin whitepaper is still up on Bitcoin.org in multiple languages.
Craig Wright’s argument depends on his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto being true. He had attempted to prove that he controls Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin addresses. However, that attempt ultimately failed to convince most of the cryptocurrency community.
“He’s had four years to come forward with proof that he is Satoshi, and I, for one, am not satisfied,” Jameson Lopp, a Bitcoin developer, said in 2019.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s handpicked successor as the maintainer of Bitcoin’s GitHub repository, Gavin Andresen, was initially convinced, but later retracted. Andresen claims that Wright fooled him.
Since then, Wright has attempted to use court systems in multiple countries to “prove” that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. A court in Norway ruled against him in October, echoing the cryptocurrency community’s position that Wright failed to prove his claim. Wright is appealing that decision.
The David Kleiman estate sued Craig Wright in a Florida court, a case that also depended on Craig Wright’s claim being true. The legal team for the Kleiman estate alleged that David Kleiman collaborated with Satoshi Nakamoto to create Bitcoin and mine 1.1 million bitcoin. The plaintiffs say Nakamoto never shared the proceeds with Kleiman.
In the court order awarding damages to the Kleiman estate, the presiding judge never addressed the matter of whether Craig Wright convincingly proved that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. The judge expressed annoyance with Wright over contradictory statements he made during his legal defense.
Wright also sued prominent figures like Roger Ver, alleging that they defamed him by calling him a fraud. However, Craig Wright seems ignorant of the protocol that he claims to have created and incapable of a straight story, as evidenced of a UK court’s award of only one pound in his libel case against Hodlnaut. The judge stated that Wright submitted “false evidence” in that case.
Hodlnaut countersued and prevailed in his case against Craig Wright. The two cases involve tweets by Hodlnaut in which he called Wright a “pathetic scammer” and “clearly mentally ill.”
Wright may not care much about the value of monetary awards, however. He seems to have an overall legal strategy that could end with him in control of billions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin, plus the value of the Satoshi Nakamoto coins on nearly every cryptocurrency that forked off of the Bitcoin blockchain – if he can gain the cooperation of everyone responsible for maintaining Bitcoin and enforcing its consensus rules.
He is also Bitcoin developers in an attempt to get them to change Bitcoin’s code to give him control of Satoshi Nakamoto’s private keys. To successfully activate a change to Bitcoin’s protocol, however, Wright would also have to gain the cooperation of many other parties like node operators and miners. There are currently 15,521 reachable Bitcoin nodes scattered around the world, an increasing number of which use the anonymizing Tor Network. Any node location that is listed as “not available” is probably using the Tor Network.
Part of his strategy may rely on some prominent figures like Cøbra deciding that maintaining their anonymity is more important than defending themselves in court cases. This leads to default judgments that the defendants could otherwise have avoided if they made the better case.