Staking Claim on Bitcoin — Does Craig Wright’s Copyright Filing Hold Legal Merit?

Bitcoin SV (BSV) has had a big week. On Tuesday, its price jumped by just over 110%, leaping from about $62 at 1:14 p.m. UTC to $132 an hour later. Given that BSV had been having a rough time in the previous month, with a number of high-profile delistings, this dizzying price rise must have come as a relief to the supporters of the cryptocurrency and the company that created it — nChain.

And while explanations for sudden market shifts are often hard to come by in the cryptocurrency industry, some within the media pinned BSV's abrupt climb on the news that nChain founder Craig Wright had filed a copyright registration for the original bitcoin white paper with the United States Copyright Office. Given that this registration identified Wright as "Satoshi Nakamoto" — a claim Wright has been making since December 2015 — it ostensibly provided him and bitcoin SV with a considerable injection of credibility and authority. So, on the surface, at least, bitcoin SV's price rise was the result of Craig Wright being seemingly “recognized” by the U.S. government as the true author of the bitcoin (BTC) white paper, and the market rushed to get its hands on the cryptocurrency he now backs.

However, this could show that Craig Wright is trying to ramp up his efforts to intimidate anyone who denies he's Satoshi Nakamoto and/or calls him a fraud. But even if the filing represents a new peak (or low) in his attempts to browbeat detractors and rival cryptocurrencies, some may argue that this reveals a high level of ignorance and incompetence. The copyright has no legal bearing on attempts to pass off a cryptocurrency as the “real” bitcoin, something that Wright claims he wants to stamp out.

Registering a copyright claim vs. proving a copyright

Timeline of Craig Wright’s claim on bitcoin

Wright has filed two copyright claims with the U.S. Copyright Office, with the office officially registering both of these in early April. One is a claim for the original bitcoin white paper, while the other is for most of the bitcoin 0.1 source code, with the nChain