MaidSafe Founder Seeks Monopoly on ‘Distributed Network System’ (Op-Ed)

MaidSafe founder David Irvine asked the U.S. government in June 2014 to create and enforce a monopoly on his behalf. On January 1 of this year, the U.S. government agreed to do so. The monopolistic grab goes by another name, too: patent.

The following computing process is what Irvine now claims he owns:

“A method of storing data from a first node on a peer-to-peer network. The method includes creating a public and private key pair for a data item.

The method also includes determining a hash value for the public key and assigning the hash value as a user identifier for the user of the node.

The method also includes storing the public key within a distributed hash table of the peer-to-peer network. The user identifier corresponds to the key for the public key within the distributed hash table.”

Irony among Ironies

Will Irvine attempt to say that the patent applies to the unreleased MaidSafe protocol? It’s unclear. But if he does, the irony goes deep.

MaidSafe bills itself, among other things, as a network to protect users from online spying. Thanks to Edward Snowden’s leaks, the U.S. government’s “National Security Agency” (NSA) is now well known as the largest spy network in the world.

In other words, Irvine may well be asking the spies to help him protect you from their spying.

Bad Ideas not yet Dead

Once upon a time, many people believed that unless monopolies (patents) on ideas were enforced, no one would have any incentive to come up with any new ideas. Crazy, I know.

Then folks like Satoshi Nakamoto came around and proved that you can actually become a billionaire while giving away your ideas (making them “free and open source”). In fact, all cryptocurrencies prove that proper incentives definitely exist outside government interference. Most of the great ideas in the history of the world were released without patents.

But it would seem that in spite of all the evidence, some like Irvine are still less interested in honestly marketing a product than they are in leveraging the (dying) power of monopolization.

Market Response

Again, it’s not entirely clear if the networking process that Irvine’s attempting to monopolize will have any effect on MaidSafe’s future users (should the code ever be released). Many certainly hope that it will, as MaidSafe was given over US$7 million dollars by the crypto community earlier this year to deliver their product.

If the monopolization attempt does affect MaidSafe, there is a fitting response. Most in the crypto community believe in self-regulation. If you believe that Irvine’s patent-seeking will negatively affect the MaidSafe network, the best way you can express that is to not use it and tell others to steer clear, as well.

What do you think of Irvine’s move? Share in the comments below.

[Edit: The code for MaidSafe has, in fact, been released. The mistaken reporting that it had not been was due to the download being unavailable on the MaidSafe website. The code is, in fact, available on MaidSafe's GitHub. Apologies are made for this error and thanks are given to those who pointed it out. The network is in testing phase, however, and has not launched.]

Did you enjoy this article? You may also be interested in reading these ones: