The U.S. Copyright Office clarified today that it does not recognize Craig Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto—the pseudonymous author of the Bitcoin whitepaper—only that Wright has filed a form claiming that he’s Satoshi.
The clarification came in response to the outcry yesterday after Bitcoin SV-fuelled site CoinGeek published an article claiming that the “U.S. Copyright Office recognize [sic] Wright as the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper.”
“As a general rule, when the Copyright Office receives an application for registration, the claimant certifies as to the truth of the statements made in the submitted materials. The Copyright Office does not investigate the truth of any statement made,” the Copyright Office said in an email to Decrypt.
It added, “In a case in which a work is registered under a pseudonym, the Copyright Office does not investigate whether there is a provable connection between the claimant and the pseudonymous author.”
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In other words, Wright was never asked to directly confirm to the Copyright Office that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, but was asked to confirm that he is “the author of the work” being registered, according to a source familiar with the case. “If this registration is challenged in court, then this correspondence will become part of the record of any legal proceedings,” said the source.
This matches with most legal opinions on the matter yesterday—that the Copyright Office was simply stating that Wright had attempted to claim to the copyright, not whether the claim itself was valid.
At the time, Coin Center director Jerry Brito said in a statement to Decrypt: “The Copyright Office doesn’t investigate the validity of claims. It would be up to a court to decide if a copyright registration is based on fraud or not.”
This is something that might well happen. Craig Wright has served lawsuits on Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, a pseudonymous space-cat on Twitter, podcaster Peter McCormack and most recently, Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver. He claims each individual wrongfully called him a “fraud” for claiming to be Nakamoto.
Central to these lawsuits will be the issue of whether he is Nakamoto—something for the courts to decide.
[May 22, 19:50 UTC] This article has been updated to clarify the statement was received in an email to Decrypt.