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Author Topic: Bitcoin Lawyer Introduction Thread  (Read 11336 times)
freespirit
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June 12, 2011, 12:02:57 AM
 #41

Welcome, Bitcoin Lawyer!

Let's give it a try...

in comments to this article  http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/06/08/bitcoin_under_attack/ someone said:

Quote
My reading of the law is that bitcoins are already illegal, and it is primarily the miners that are breaking the law by not registering as electronic money issuers, not keeping appropriate reserves to cover redemptions of their magic numbers, not employing "fit and proper persons", not having complaints procedures and so on.

your opinion?
What law? UK's I presume? Not everyone is under UK's jurisdiction and UK law Smiley
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June 12, 2011, 12:06:08 AM
 #42

I am also a lawyer and I can't even count the number of ethical violations in this thread. You should be ashamed of yourself and are at high risk of disciplinary sanctions or disbarment. To add to that, as a criminal lawyer, you aren't competent to comment on these issues.

You're made me sweat for a minute there!  Just re-read ethical rules and tried my best to audit everything I have written on here.  Doing my best to make it clear that this is just an educational discussion.  I'm trying to BE educated about what legal issues there are surrounding bitcoin.  I'm trying to discuss an emerging area of law in a public forum.  I'm not a criminal and I'm not ashamed of trying to participate in an online discussion forum or blog.

Are you just trolling or was there a specific ethical violation you had in mind?  Please enlighten me, I'm trying my best to follow all my state's ethical rules regarding internet communication.

Nobody called you a criminal. Nice straw man. As a criminal lawyer (if you are in fact a lawyer), you should know the difference between criminal violations for which you can go to jail, and ethical violations for which you can be disciplined by your state licensing authority.

As for specific violations, you are already aware that you didn't disclose your jurisdiction so that was a silly question to ask. In general though, some of your posts are solicitations that in some states would need to be filed with an advertising board and may have other requirements such as listing your name/address/etc and clearly disclosing that the communication is a solicitation. The rules are sometimes draconian and haven't really caught up with the realities of the internet, but it's still your responsibility to comply with them. You are also opening yourself up to malpractice liability if anyone relies on your poor advice.

It's hard for me to believe that you are a lawyer given how poor your judgment is, but I guess it's possible given that there are only about 18 worthwhile law schools out of the 200+ in existence. Regardless of what cesspool you graduated from, you should know that merely saying "this is not a solicitation" and "this is not legal advice" does not effectively cover you if you are in fact soliciting clients and offering legal advice. Given that you hold yourself out as "Bitcoin Lawyer," and make posts like:

Quote
First let me say I'm biased, as I would love to be involved as a principal in any serious, well-funded effort to create a legitimate money service business and/or bank startup to exchange bitcoins for currency.

Yes, we need more exchanges.  We need at least one exchange built on a rock-solid foundation of strict legal compliance.  Run like any other financial institution.  No dirty business.  No dirty money.  A full-time legal compliance staff. This means at least one person in  who can act as a legal liaison to contracted legal counsel and later head of legal compliance.

your purpose here is pretty clear. There are also side issues with a lawyer becoming involved with a client's business venture as a principal, especially if you take an equity interest as payment for your services. The worst part is that you knew you were doing something stupid yet decided to do it anyway:

Quote
Yes I am a real, fully licensed attorney.  Yes I have an active, full-time brick and mortar practice.  Both these things could be put at risk by my participation here.  Therefore I am acting under a pseudonym to protect my identity.

What special experience, training, or education do you have that qualifies you to hold yourself out as a "Bitcoin Lawyer"? Traffic tickets and DUI pleas? Sorry your practice isn't doing well and you now have to resort to this.
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June 12, 2011, 12:06:54 AM
 #43

Unfortunately I have to agree that you don't seem particularly qualified.

First of all, "coining money" is not a "right" but a "power".  No one has the right to coin money.  Specifically, it is the power to stamp a piece of metal with your seal or face or whatever, distribute the coin to others, and yet still claim ownership of the metal.  This is the reason the US may also "regulate the value thereof".  They own it.  In any other case this would be considered an act of fraud and unjust force.  However, since this power was granted to the US federal government by the states, through the Constitution, it is collectively tolerated.  And the reason this power was granted to the federal government exclusively was primarily to prevent sovereign states from melting down each others' coins, as well as to provide individuals with a unit of exchange with a recognizable standard of weight and quality:

Quote from: Blacks Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition
COIN, n.  Pieces of gold, silver, or other metal, fashioned into a prescribed shape, weight, and degree of fineness, and stamped, by authority of government, with certain marks and devices, and put into circulation as money at a fixed value, Com. v. Gallagher, 16 Gray, Mass., 240;  Latham v. U.S., 1 Ct.Cl. 150; Borie v. Trott, 5 Phila., Pa., 403

Furthermore, coin, money, and currency at least (of the terms you listed) each have distinct definitions that pre-date any US government:  (emphasis mine)

Quote from: Blacks Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition
Strictly speaking, coin differs from money, as the species differs from the genus.  Money is any matter, whether metal, paper, beads, shells, etc., which has currency as a medium in commerce.  Coin is a particular species, always made of metal, and struck according to a certain process called "coinage."  Wharton.

Coin is just one type of money.  Money is that which has currency.  Currency is current value.  Pop Tarts constitute currency in some places.  There is absolutely no reason not to refer to Bitcoins as currency.

Frankly, your advice to avoid these well-defined terms in favor of more vague ones recently-coined by some three-letter agency is laughably bad.  The fact that you do so behind an anonymous account with a Simpsons avatar makes me seriously question your motives.

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June 12, 2011, 12:49:48 AM
 #44

I am also a lawyer and I can't even count the number of ethical violations in this thread. You should be ashamed of yourself and are at high risk of disciplinary sanctions or disbarment. To add to that, as a criminal lawyer, you aren't competent to comment on these issues.

You're made me sweat for a minute there!  Just re-read ethical rules and tried my best to audit everything I have written on here.  Doing my best to make it clear that this is just an educational discussion.  I'm trying to BE educated about what legal issues there are surrounding bitcoin.  I'm trying to discuss an emerging area of law in a public forum.  I'm not a criminal and I'm not ashamed of trying to participate in an online discussion forum or blog.

Are you just trolling or was there a specific ethical violation you had in mind?  Please enlighten me, I'm trying my best to follow all my state's ethical rules regarding internet communication.

Nobody called you a criminal. Nice straw man. As a criminal lawyer (if you are in fact a lawyer), you should know the difference between criminal violations for which you can go to jail, and ethical violations for which you can be disciplined by your state licensing authority.

As for specific violations, you are already aware that you didn't disclose your jurisdiction so that was a silly question to ask. In general though, some of your posts are solicitations that in some states would need to be filed with an advertising board and may have other requirements such as listing your name/address/etc and clearly disclosing that the communication is a solicitation. The rules are sometimes draconian and haven't really caught up with the realities of the internet, but it's still your responsibility to comply with them. You are also opening yourself up to malpractice liability if anyone relies on your poor advice.

It's hard for me to believe that you are a lawyer given how poor your judgment is, but I guess it's possible given that there are only about 18 worthwhile law schools out of the 200+ in existence. Regardless of what cesspool you graduated from, you should know that merely saying "this is not a solicitation" and "this is not legal advice" does not effectively cover you if you are in fact soliciting clients and offering legal advice. Given that you hold yourself out as "Bitcoin Lawyer," and make posts like:

Quote
First let me say I'm biased, as I would love to be involved as a principal in any serious, well-funded effort to create a legitimate money service business and/or bank startup to exchange bitcoins for currency.

Yes, we need more exchanges.  We need at least one exchange built on a rock-solid foundation of strict legal compliance.  Run like any other financial institution.  No dirty business.  No dirty money.  A full-time legal compliance staff. This means at least one person in  who can act as a legal liaison to contracted legal counsel and later head of legal compliance.

your purpose here is pretty clear. There are also side issues with a lawyer becoming involved with a client's business venture as a principal, especially if you take an equity interest as payment for your services. The worst part is that you knew you were doing something stupid yet decided to do it anyway:

Quote
Yes I am a real, fully licensed attorney.  Yes I have an active, full-time brick and mortar practice.  Both these things could be put at risk by my participation here.  Therefore I am acting under a pseudonym to protect my identity.

What special experience, training, or education do you have that qualifies you to hold yourself out as a "Bitcoin Lawyer"? Traffic tickets and DUI pleas? Sorry your practice isn't doing well and you now have to resort to this.

Get over it dawg, he wants to help so he can if he wants.
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June 12, 2011, 04:59:37 AM
 #45

Unfortunately I have to agree that you don't seem particularly qualified.

Furthermore, coin, money, and currency at least (of the terms you listed) each have distinct definitions that pre-date any US government:  (emphasis mine)

Coin is just one type of money.  Money is that which has currency.  Currency is current value

Frankly, your advice to avoid these well-defined terms in favor of more vague ones recently-coined by some three-letter agency is laughably bad. 

I agree with most of your post, benjamin.  Mea culpa.  I retract my earlier comments about not referring to it as a currency

I could go back and edit my post, but I want to leave it there so its clear how new to bitcoin I am.  I have much to learn.  Thank you for the criticism.  I got way ahead of myself with some of my statements about what should be said about bitcoin.  Sorry about that, it is not my place. 

It just seemed to me that virtual goods have received such favorable treatment in the law so far with second life and WoW gold that it would be easier for bitcoin to be defined as a virtual good. 

But I see now upon further reflection and study that the bitcoin project's goal is to be recognized as a currency, a medium of exchange in direct competition with government issued currency.  It is distinguished from Lindens and GP because those virtual goods are intended by their issuers to be used within the virtual world.  Exchanges have been set up to convert them back and forth to govt. currency and (with Linden dollars) bitcoins.  But that is secondary to those project's goals, which were to make a fun MMOG.  Not so with bitcoin.

In Jeff Garzik's interview on CBSnews online June 8, he described bitcoin succinctly as:
"a decentralized electronic currency with no central bank" and "a worldwide currency".  So that's what it is.

As to my motives, I'm here to discuss the project with people in the know, which is why I posted in the project development forum.  I want to discussed and be criticized openly as part of a general educational effort.  I hope the education flows both ways.  I ask for some leeway at first while I get fully up to speed.  It's clear I'm not ready to hit the ground running 100%.

What lawyer is?  And hopefully this thread and other forum activity will serve to educate lawyers in the future so they don't have to suffer same slings and arrows that (it looks like) are in store for me.

As to the poster who called 90% of all law schools in the U.S. a "cesspool", I'm not going to get into a flame war with you.  I can't take you seriously when you display such an unseemly lack of civility and only have 3 posts, 2 of them to sharply criticize me in a rude manner.  None of them demonstrating any knowledge of bitcoin or any attempt on your part to benefit from or contribute to the discussion of the project.

Once again, thank you for the criticism.  Sorry my posts get so long.
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June 12, 2011, 05:20:11 AM
 #46

In Jeff Garzik's interview on CBSnews online June 8, he described bitcoin succinctly as:
"a decentralized electronic currency with no central bank" and "a worldwide currency".  So that's what it is.

Well, I am just one person blathering my own opinion.

Until there's a court case or other precedent or an administrative ruling, all we have to go on [in the USA, where I live] is the experience of BitcoinUSA.  BitcoinUSA apparently receiving guidance pointing them to the 2009 FinCEN administrative ruling on stored value.

Will lawyers, rather than laypersons such as myself, call it a commodity, currency, virtual good or other, ultimately?

I have no idea, and your input on that subject is certainly welcome and encouraged on these forums.

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June 12, 2011, 06:27:47 AM
 #47

BTCLAW...welcome to the forums.

Question: Where do you think Bitcoins will go? Do you have faith it will stick around or will the government interfere and put an end to this with one of their magical schemes?

Just want your honest opinion, would like to see what you think from a person in your field.

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June 12, 2011, 06:50:04 AM
 #48

Since bitcoins are "stored value" and not directly money, there is a FinCEN ruling that is relevant:
http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/fin-2009-r001.html

OK lets me see if I'm understanding this ruling a la stored value thing correctly...

Cast:
The Company     ==     Point of sale terminal service provider
The Arranger      ==     Visa, Mastercard (the brand on the pre-paid cards)
The Bank           ==     Stores the currency value in a bank account linked to the card
The Issuer         ==     The Arranger "and/or" the Bank

From the ruling:
Quote
"The Company contracts with sellers or issuers of stored value products to process the sale of these products through the Company's POS terminals. The Company also serves as the processing conduit among purchasers, retailers, issuers, and/or issuer's banks, through its POS terminals and transaction processing platform, for the sale of stored value products.

You additionally represent that the Company has entered into a distributorship agreement with the Arranger in which the Company serves as a service provider for the Arranger in connection with the sale of stored value cards ("Cards"), issued by [] (the "Bank") and bearing the Arranger's brand, by retailers operating as the Arranger's sales agents. The Cards can be loaded with up to $1,000 per day and $2,500 per month."

Applying to bitcoin, the system operates so differently, it is difficult if not impossible to make a direct comparison between the actors.  Meaning this ruling can't be relied on for much, except to confirm that bitcoin is operating in a gray area of law.  Let me explain:

The Company      -   The bitcoin miners and mining pools add blocks to the block chain, which confirms the transactions.  This processes transactions.  They get rewards from the bitcoin open source project (determined by the code written by and voted on project members) in the form of transaction fees and bitcoins.  However, the transactions are from one wallet to another. 

wallet1 --> confirmation --> wallet2. 
                      |----> add to block chain

In the ruled on pre-paid card system, the transaction is more complicated with more actors and steps involved, as described in my earlier post on this ruling.

The Arranger       -   The bitcoin open source project.  Insofar as bitcoin is a brand maintained by them, I suppose.  And the miners provide a service to them.  This is the closest to a direct comparison we get out of all the actors.

The Bank            -   If there is any central "store" of the value, it is in two types of places.  1) Individual wallets and 2) the block chain database.  But a block chain database is just a data file (100s of MB and growing).  A bank is so much more than that I need not elaborate.  And for anyone to use their bitcoins, they or a 3rd party intermediary has to use the client, which downloads a copy of the database.  Similarly, at its most basic, a wallet is just a collection of numbers - cryptographic keys.  It is also worthless without the client.

The Issuer           -   Any internet source where you can download the client and the block chain database.  They just provide the bandwidth. 

With the lack of comparability between the actors in the ruled-upon transactions, I'm not
sure what to make of this FINCEN ruling except that it is far from directly on point.  I do agree that it is relevant and helpful to consider.

/end apples-to-oranges analysis

"bitcoins are "stored value" - OK I agree that if prepaid cards are stored value then so are bitcoins, you have the keys stored in your wallet file, numbers that allow you to send/spend the bitcoins in combination with the client.  Just like a pre-paid card, which has a number encoded on the magnetic stripe that allows you to spend money in combination with POS terminals.  You can email the wallet to someone else to use.  You can mail the prepaid card to someone else to use.  Prepaid card can add $1,000 to $2,500 a month.  Have to pay a fee to the payment processor for this service.  Bitcoin wallet can "add"  (by other wallet(s) sending to it) ANY AMOUNT of btc in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on confirmation times.  Optional "fee" to "payment processor" for faster processing.

Stored value currency that is "not directly money" - yet another answer to the question "What are bitcoins?"  I'm just trying to get up to speed here.
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June 12, 2011, 09:37:57 AM
 #49

Just wanted to remind everyone, that the legal advice/discussions in this thread may be wildly different depending on your jurisdiction.

What is true for the UK may not be true for the US, what is true for the US may not be true for the Netherlands etc. etc.

This not only applies to the answers of specific legal questions, but also to the very definitions from which the answers are derived: For example if bitcoins are legally considered a currency or intangible good or something other.

I know I am not contributing heavily to this discussion, but I feel that it is neccesary to point out, that the only real way of even having a chance to find out anything solid about a specific bitcoin legal question, is to consult a lawyer in your own jurisdiction, and actually pay them.

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June 12, 2011, 06:51:00 PM
 #50

It is true that each jurisdiction does have different legal definitions and requirements. But Bitcoins are so new they almost need a new way of refering to them and a new legal definition.

Could we come to some sort of agreement here as a community of what bitcoins are and how they should legally be treated, and then go to our individual jurisdiction governments and make them all adopt a common legal treatment? It would require alot of work, but I think the future would thank us. It may be like herding cats, though, I do not have much faith in us coming to a common definition.


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June 12, 2011, 07:51:28 PM
 #51

It is true that each jurisdiction does have different legal definitions and requirements. But Bitcoins are so new they almost need a new way of refering to them and a new legal definition.

Could we come to some sort of agreement here as a community of what bitcoins are and how they should legally be treated, and then go to our individual jurisdiction governments and make them all adopt a common legal treatment? It would require alot of work, but I think the future would thank us. It may be like herding cats, though, I do not have much faith in us coming to a common definition.

I've been thinking about this lately. A much better thing would be if we could build a totally new and independent "distributed governing body"/"direct democracy" functioning on similar principles as bitcoin (being p2p/decentralized, based on "proof of work" - or "peer vouching" term could be more appropriate in this case) or being a part of bitcoin infrastructure.

What I mean is that besides monetary transactions' information floating inside bitcoin network we could also have a sort of identity information, polls/votes information etc.

For example, suppose you want to establish an identity for yourself (which can consist of arbitrary credentials/id-elements like your name, address, ebay-like feedback etc). So you "declare" the specific credentials and then ask people who can confirm them to vouch for you. The more people vouched for your credentials the more "trusted" those credentials are, obviously. (think of number of confirmations for btc transactions)

The identity elements should be stored in encrypted form on the network but should be verifiable via asymmetric encryption. So if someone initiated a vote (see below) for residents of Southpark only those who have an identity with confirmed "city" element which is "Southpart" should be able to cast votes.

Then anyone who has any kind of identity can initiate any kind of vote on anything ("Shall we consider bitcoin legal money", "Is it OK to build a buclear plant in Southpark?" etc.), specify it's parameters like "only Southpark residents can vote - those with 20+ confirmations of residency in Southpark", only members with 50 confirmations of their name (but names are not revealed) can vote etc.

The enforcement of the votes etc. might be difficult at first but if/when massive amounts of people will vote for something it will become easier.

Interesting side effects/advantages:
You can choose any name you want as long as enough people agree to call you that Smiley You can even have no name if you are not interested in participating in processes (votes etc.) that require it.
This system would not depend on existing political constructs/notions/establishments. (countries/citizenships etc.) Rather that that people will group (by participating in certain processes/votes) by all kinds of criteria.
No need for representative democracy anymore. Cast your votes directly Smiley Same goes for other institutions like courts of law etc. Do not want to participate directly in certain matters or do not feel competent enough? Delegate your vote (on specific matters) to someone. Became unhappy how they use your delegated voice? Revoke it immediately!

Problems to be resolved:
1. How to motivate people to distribute this information? Bitcoin transaction distribution is sustained by mining, but what about non-monetary information? Shall we pay "miners" a "transaction fee" for it?
2. We need a way to deal with identity theft/loss (think of an identity as a wallet). Perhaps rules for some kind of restoration process should be established (through the same "vouching" process described above).
3. The math behind this might be probably even more robust then bitcoin's.
4. What to do with multiple identities? Perhaps we should just let them be (it would be more difficult to get it's elements confirmed anyway), or this should be resolved via a vote at some point.
5. What else did not I think of?
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June 13, 2011, 12:33:13 AM
 #52

I'll chime in on the UK regulations here (obviously, IANAL and this legal advice is worth what you paid for it).

The rules the Reg commenter referred to here:

Quote
My reading of the law is that bitcoins are already illegal, and it is primarily the miners that are breaking the law by not registering as electronic money issuers, not keeping appropriate reserves to cover redemptions of their magic numbers, not employing "fit and proper persons", not having complaints procedures and so on.

is probably the set of regulations described here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2002/apr/25/onlinesupplement1

I've read those rules and I don't think they apply to Bitcoin miners. The reason is that the regulations are (thank goodness) very precise in their definitions. Specifically, to be considered e-money the virtual currency has to represent claims upon the issuer:

http://www.fsa.gov.uk/Pages/About/What/International/emoney/index.shtml

However Bitcoins do not represent claims on issuers (miners, presumably). A miner doesn't have to give you anything in return for Bitcoins, nor do they ever claim they will. They don't even really "issue" the currency at all, rather, everyone agrees that they own some coins in return for them doing useful work.

The FSA rules are intended to handle the case where you issue tokens pegged to some backing currency like the pound, so the rules are for things like "you must redeem the e-money even if its value is less than 10 pounds", etc. For those sorts of cases their rules make sense, but they don't make sense in the context of Bitcoin and fortunately, do not seem to apply.

If you were to run an exchange, or a Bitcoin Bank (ie, holding coins on behalf of somebody else), you probably would have to register as a MSB and that entails a pretty amazing pile of regulation. The "fit and proper" test doesn't look too bad, you basically fill out a form that says you aren't a terrorist and pay 50 pounds. They do a background check and away you go. Much harder are the AML laws, for example, you would have to get identity verification of all your customers, check them against a gigantic list of "politically exposed people" (which by the way is not an official list, you have to buy them from companies that try to find everyone meeting the laws definition of a PEP), perhaps do even more thorough background checking, find out where your customers money came from and then if it seems 'suspicious', file a SAR which may or may not ever get read. The penalties for getting any of this wrong include jail sentences, and the laws are so vague it's hard to really be sure you ever got it right.

Fortunately, the UK Government is considering repealing the criminal penalties for AML compliance problems (they were never much used anyway). If you're a Brit, you can read their proposal and write to them explaining what you think of the AML laws here:

  http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/fin_gov_response_money_laundering_regs.htm

I sent them a mail with some comments and questions seeking to clarify some points. Don't troll them though, they're genuinely trying to improve the law, unfortunately their hands are largely tied by the EU and FATF ....
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June 13, 2011, 06:00:50 AM
 #53

I've been thinking about this lately. A much better thing would be if we could build a totally new and independent "distributed governing body"/"direct democracy" functioning on similar principles as bitcoin (being p2p/decentralized, based on "proof of work" - or "peer vouching" term could be more appropriate in this case) or being a part of bitcoin infrastructure.

[snip]

For example, suppose you want to establish an identity for yourself (which can consist of arbitrary credentials/id-elements like your name, address, ebay-like feedback etc). So you "declare" the specific credentials and then ask people who can confirm them to vouch for you. The more people vouched for your credentials the more "trusted" those credentials are, obviously. (think of number of confirmations for btc transactions)
The FreeNet Web-of-Trust plugin does exactly this for FreeNet identities. I guess the closest thing that we have for Bitcoin would be the reputation system used by #Bitcoin-otc That could be expanded to include the features that you're looking for.

If you're really keen then look to extend #Bitcoin-otc 's system, specifically created a plugin and/or easy way to verify identities on these forums.

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June 13, 2011, 06:25:01 AM
 #54

The FreeNet Web-of-Trust plugin does exactly this for FreeNet identities. I guess the closest thing that we have for Bitcoin would be the reputation system used by #Bitcoin-otc That could be expanded to include the features that you're looking for.

If you're really keen then look to extend #Bitcoin-otc 's system, specifically created a plugin and/or easy way to verify identities on these forums.
Thanks for pointing this out, I'll look into it. Although being IRC-based it is not as much decentralized as bitcoin network. (so it can be taken down relatively easy)
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June 13, 2011, 07:29:23 AM
 #55

Thanks for pointing this out, I'll look into it. Although being IRC-based it is not as much decentralized as bitcoin network. (so it can be taken down relatively easy)
That's why I mentioned the Freenet web-of-trust.

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June 13, 2011, 01:04:58 PM
 #56

If there are any threads that are in need of a legal discussion, feel free to link to them in a response to this intro thread.  Once again, I can't promise anything with regard to responses to posts.  If there is an active case or you have any pending legal issue, even a potential one, please consult with a legal professional in your jurisdiction ASAP.

Very Truly Yours,
Bitcoin Lawyer

Nice to see creativity of the community making up for the speculated value of coins. You can get paid by owning coins and then work. People so stuck in chasing the dollar when they should be using their time to create. Every time the value of BTC goes up just count that as payment for work you have not done yet. Then announce it and hold onto your coins.

Proposal: http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=11541.msg162881#msg162881
Inception: https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/issues/296
Goal: http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=12536.0
Means: Code, donations, and brutal criticism. I've got a thick skin. 1Gc3xCHAzwvTDnyMW3evBBr5qNRDN3DRpq
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June 13, 2011, 10:08:39 PM
 #57

posting to subscribe
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June 15, 2011, 08:59:51 AM
 #58

IMHO the internet is a lawless place.

I am sorry and I dont want to offend the OP but if anyone here is arrested today (relating to anything bitcoin) then, unless you happen to live in the same jurisdiction as OP, he will not be defending you.

The following however is true all over the world:

1) Can you be arrested for your involvement with Bitcoin? {yes} You can be arrested for anything at any time. People get arrested unlawfully all the time.
2) Will you be arrested for your involvement with Botcoin? {probably not} The fact of the matter is that it is very unlikely that any government will go after "the man in the street".
3) If arrested will I go to jail? {probably not} Think about it: the presiding officer {judge} would have to be persuaded that you did something illegal {many jurisdictions this will not be true} and that you knew that you were committing a crime {this may vary from jurisdiction} and that the punishment that fits the crime is to put you in jail. - hmm NO.
4) Can I sue member X because of ....... {yes but do you really want to?} We have to find him and sue him where he lives and when we get to court we have to persuade the presiding officer which legal system was applicable and what the principles are.

Practically speaking I dont believe that the courts will assist us in regulating bitcoin. I also dont believe that if the governments of the world whished to attack bitoin that it would be by arresting the people that use it.
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June 15, 2011, 09:12:21 AM
 #59

What special experience, training, or education do you have that qualifies you to hold yourself out as a "Bitcoin Lawyer"? Traffic tickets and DUI pleas? Sorry your practice isn't doing well and you now have to resort to this.

Pray tell how are bitcoiners going to get any useful information if every bit of participation by a lawyer is "an ethics violation"?
Pray tell how are bitcoiners going to get any representation in court if the counsel is not part of the business so as to advise "how to dodge bullets" designed for meatspace issues?

Seriously, how would you implement such a service, ethically and professionally without a pseudonym?

Proposal: http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=11541.msg162881#msg162881
Inception: https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/issues/296
Goal: http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=12536.0
Means: Code, donations, and brutal criticism. I've got a thick skin. 1Gc3xCHAzwvTDnyMW3evBBr5qNRDN3DRpq
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June 15, 2011, 09:44:10 AM
 #60

What special experience, training, or education do you have that qualifies you to hold yourself out as a "Bitcoin Lawyer"? Traffic tickets and DUI pleas? Sorry your practice isn't doing well and you now have to resort to this.

Pray tell how are bitcoiners going to get any useful information if every bit of participation by a lawyer is "an ethics violation"?
Pray tell how are bitcoiners going to get any representation in court if the counsel is not part of the business so as to advise "how to dodge bullets" designed for meatspace issues?

Seriously, how would you implement such a service, ethically and professionally without a pseudonym?

The way legal advice works is you contact a lawyer with a specific problem you are facing, you then pay him dearly to solve it for you. By doing it like this you get:
1. client-attourney relation
2. actual proper advice
3. somewhere to complain if the advice was bogus
4. the attourney will have insurance

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