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The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund (BLDF), a non-profit co-founded by Block (formerly Square) CEO Jack Dorsey, announced Wednesday that it is supporting the legal defense for a number of Bitcoin Core developers targeted by a lawsuit filed by Craig Wright and his firm, Tulip Trading.
“The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund has stepped up to fight for more than just Bitcoin—we are here to defend the right to build free, open-source software without fear,” Jessica Jonas, Chief Legal Officer at the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, told Decrypt.
The announcement comes on the same day the Bitcoin Core developers filed their substantive defense in a UK court.
The lawsuit, “Tulip Trading Limited v. Bitcoin Association For BSV & Others,” Jonas says, stems from an alleged hack in 2020 that resulted in the loss of 111,000 Bitcoin that Wright claimed to own.
Although BLDF calls the claims frivolous, Jonas says the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is backing 13 Bitcoin developers in two separate cases initiated by Wright or his associated companies and is calling the cases attacks on fundamental principles of freedom.
“We need to take them seriously and defend them fervently because the potential stakes are too high to ignore,” Jonas said.
At issue in the case, Jonas says, is whether Bitcoin developers have a fiduciary duty to Bitcoin users.
“Wright is arguing that they owe a fiduciary duty, and as such, they should be obligated to create a ‘backdoor’ to allow him to access coins he claims to have lost,” she said, adding that it would compromise Bitcoin’s core feature as a fully distributed open-source software to do so, since by design no individual or group can retroactively alter the blockchain.
The group hopes to rally public support against this and future legal attacks by Wright.
“By rallying the public and demonstrating widespread support for the defendants, we aim to show Wright and his team that their legal tactics will not go unchallenged,” Jonas said.
Since 2016, the controversial Australian computer scientist has launched several lawsuits, including accusing sites posting the Bitcoin whitepaper of copyright infringement after claiming to be the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Earlier this month, Wright hinted that Apple might be violating copyright law when it was discovered that a copy of the Bitcoin whitepaper had been hidden on Apple’s computers since at least 2018.
The Bitcoin Association for BSV has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.