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    Of regrets law laanwj.github.io

For context, see https://www.coindesk.com/business/2023/02/03/craig-wrights-uk-case-against-16-bitcoin-developers-to-go-to-full-trial-report/

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      The judgment is here: https://downloads.coindesk.com/cd3/Tulip+Trading+-v-+van+der+Laan.pdf

      To be honest, I’m shocked by the idea that the software developers could be fiduciaries in this context. That said, this is a decision on application for summary judgment, and the bar for the claimant to defend such an application is basically that their chances of success at trial are more than merely fanciful. If you take the view the court did of the law, and of the possible range of facts that might be established at trial, it probably does follow that the chances of success clear that extremely low bar.

      Van der Laan’s bitterness on this point is understandable. Being sued is expensive, stressful, and time consuming. Based on any ordinary attitude as to what open source developers are doing, the suggestion that he (?) and his co-defendants are fiduciaries operating 4 payment networks is frightening and extraordinary. If Tulip win this, it would represent an enormous redefinition of the duties of software developers, and would be utterly chilling to the current model of open source development, and indeed hobbyist software development in general.

      For this view to succeed, I think it necessarily implies that if you’re writing software you’re operating a service, an unexpectedly crushing victory for the view that all software should be in the cloud, and all software exists as a service.

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        I think it only pushes FOSS further: for software to be truly free, there must be no claimed author. The software must take a life of its own.

        Personally I don’t get the point of FOSSware licenses. The law as we see can be interpreted and applied in many ways across the world. You’re better off treating your FOSSware as if it has no owner.

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          The nature of the claim - if successful - would remove the ability to avoid liability by disclaiming ownership. These developers are not on the hook because they claim copyright but because they are contributors. In principle the courts won’t allow anonymity to protect anyone from liability.

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            Of course - but how can anyone be liable if no one knows where it came from…

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              Yes but that’s a whole new model for foss

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                Yeah I know, and it’s what I’m suggesting :D

                I know it sucks as a human being, to make something which no one will ever know you made, to not be remembered, but I think that’s one of the prices of making great things. People remember the things, not the people behind it. Who the hell made the Furby? I don’t know.

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      I flagged this as off-topic because a simple perusing of the judgement[1] shows the MIT license is not really involved in the case. It’s inter-Bitcoin drama involving known conman and scammer Craig Wright.

      If one wants to know more, the HN thread is unusually good. 'nullc in the comments in Peter Todd, one of the defendants.

      [1] https://downloads.coindesk.com/cd3/Tulip+Trading+-v-+van+der+Laan.pdf

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        Just because it involves blockchain scammers, it doesn’t mean the precedents set if Tulip succeeds at trial won’t affect everyone involved in open source.

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          I skimmed through the decision, and it’s quite narrowly focused on what “fiduciary duty” means in terms of UK law. The case still has to go to trial, and CSW prevail, and it become settled law (i.e. not overridden by an act in Parliament) in the UK, and that affecting other FOSS developers outside the UK, before it’s relevant to post here. IMHO.

          I can easily see an org like EFF get involved on the defendants side to hire even better lawyers than CSW has, to nip this stuff in the bud at trial.

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      The other aspect of this that is more narrowly interesting is that it - again - gives the lie to the idea that blockchains can replace law and human discretion with code. There are 4 forks of the Bitcoin blockchain that required the decision of the miners AND now the law is potentially telling the developers what to do.

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      For what it’s worth, it appears the author of the original blog post might have removed it. Since nothing on the Internet ever easily disappears, an archived copy is at https://web.archive.org/web/20230206215930/https://laanwj.github.io/2023/02/06/regrets.html.

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        He probably removed it after consulting with counsel.

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      He really called his company Tulip Trading?

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        It’s bitcoin. People will buy even if you call it “Scammy McGee’s Ponzi Emporium”

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      I’m having a hard time seeing what is driving this part of the piece:

      The no-warranty clause apparently doesn’t hold up in court (at least in the UK).

      Is it the comment about the crypto fraud case you included in the story text? That seems unsupported, to my eye.

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        Yes. In a nutshell, the developers of Bitcoin are being sued—and the submitted story is a blog post from one of the developers.

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          So they’re saying that the no-warranty clause doesn’t hold up because they could be sued? Did they lose? I’d think the test would be whether it lets them fight off the suit, not whether someone can raise the suit in the first place. At least in the US, you can sue someone for any reason at all. “Being sued” does not really suggest that a license doesn’t work, here.

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            Fair. I think it’s clear to say he never expected to be subjected to this for simply committing to an open source project with a very clearly defined license.

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              Conversely, merely saying you’re not liable shouldn’t necessarily be enough to avoid liability. For example, VSCode is MIT licensed. If Microsoft, by their negligence, commits code that causes auto-updated VSCode installations to delete disk encryption keys, should the MIT license prevent anyone from suing them? I think no. Whether the bitcoin case warrants similar treatment I’m not sure – I haven’t read the judgement yet – but I think it’s a valid question for a court to resolve.

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                should the MIT license prevent anyone from suing them? I think no.

                I think the legal fiction of a reasonable man should expect a user to have critical data backed up. Yes, the license should protect against a reasonable degree of negligence. Steam on Linux was wiping root partitions not too long ago.

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                  I think the legal fiction of a reasonable man should expect a user to have critical data backed up.

                  That’s an argument about the standard of care you owe in negligence, not an argument that you should be prohibited from suing in negligence because someone put a “I’m not liable” sticker on their work.

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              “If you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised if you get fleas”.

              Bitcoin isn’t just any open source project. It’s ideologically inclined towards upending the entire current financial system, thus risking upsetting some very wealthy people.

              I wouldn’t have expected the challenge to come from an Aussie fraudster bankrolled by a Canadian gambling mogul but that’s why Bitcoin is still after 14 years the best source of comedy gold in this space.