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Wright’s Satoshi Libel Cases Unlikely to Reach Trial


Craig Wright is suing various people for claiming he is not Satoshi, including Peter McCormack and Roger Ver. This raises questions about what ‘proof’ will look like for each party.

The ongoing legal action taken by Craig Wright against parties who claim he is not Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, may yet take more interesting turns.

Nothing in this Opinion article constitutes legal advice.

It would be trivially easy for Craig Wright to prove he is Satoshi, with a digital signature using the same private key used to mine the Genesis block or another early block or transaction (such as the Finney transaction). To date, Wright has not provided such proof. McCormack and others have claimed he is lying but, of course, lack conclusive evidence – since it is difficult to prove a negative. At the heart of the matter is how each party would prove their contention, especially in the absence of knowledge of the real identity of Satoshi. The question is therefore:

  1. Will Craig Wright be required to provide convincing evidence that he is Satoshi in order to win his case, or
  2. Will absence of evidence that he is not Satoshi be enough to find in his favour?

Should Wright prove his claim?

Much will likely depend on circumstances, here. However, since Wright is the plaintiff it might be expected that he should have to prove his claim. This is surely made more likely by other relevant cases in which Wright has been ordered to produce evidence of his bitcoin holdings – the ‘Satoshi addresses’ – and has been accused of faking a PGP signature.

In practice, the case is unlikely to reach trial, since the Discovery process will require the submission of evidence and a judgment on the merits of the case.

Wright has not won the confidence of the community in his claim to be Satoshi. This case may soon determine whether he has the confidence of the legal system.