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Author Topic: Bitcoin Gains Some Legal Protection Through Electronic Frontier Foundation  (Read 3172 times)
jimbobway
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November 14, 2010, 07:43:17 AM
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Bitcoin Blogger:

http://www.bitcoinblogger.com/2010/11/bitcoin-gains-legal-protection-through.html
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ribuck
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November 14, 2010, 09:01:37 AM
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Could you please re-word the last sentence? If people read it quickly, they might assume that the address given is for the EFF. Perhaps say something like "... donate to the author of this blog at this address ...".

Also, the hyperlink to the EFF shouldn't say "here", because people may assume that "here" means "at this page". It would be better if you used the words "at their donations page" because that makes it quite clear what's happening where. Thanks!

And to everyone else: the EFF hasn't made any kind of commitment to "protect" bitcoins, but if lots of people are donating to them it might make it worth their while. Go for it!
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November 14, 2010, 05:24:25 PM
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I removed the bitcoin addy altogether.  No biggie for me.
jgarzik
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November 14, 2010, 07:26:39 PM
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I think the claim of legal protection goes a bit too far.

It certainly gave me a false impression, upon reading the headline.

Jeff Garzik, bitcoin core dev team and BitPay engineer; opinions are my own, not my employer.
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November 14, 2010, 08:05:23 PM
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I think the claim of legal protection goes a bit too far.
For sure. If there was a legal problem with Bitcoin, EFF could choose simply to drop Bitcoin as a donation mechanism. Nothing forces them to defend it.
jimbobway
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November 14, 2010, 08:20:11 PM
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Ok, I sensed this was coming and should have known.  I changed the title in the blog.
RHorning
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November 14, 2010, 08:54:31 PM
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The one problem here is that the whole premise is a fallacy.  This is attempting to earn credibility by association, which is wrong.

The fact that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is willing to accept Bitcoins as a donatoin mechanism is notable so far as it is providing an additional means to donate to their cause, and that at least somebody has looked into Bitcoins long enough at the EFF that presumably they have one of their computers running a more up-to-date version of Bitcoins on one of their computers.  As a background task where nobody really has to do anything, it is a small thing that does have some implications, but nothing really significant.

I remember when open source software sort of gained some significant credibility, and two significant events made that happen:

  • Netscape deciding to "open source" their software, giving the beginnings to Mozilla/Firefox.  While Netscape Navigator ended up becoming a dinosaur, the basic core of the software lives on after a fashion and only has been sustained because of open source software
  • IBM adopting Linux for its mainframe business.  Before Linux started to show up on the mainframe computers, the entire division was in decline and there were rumors that IBM was going to shut down the entire mainframe division altogether.  Instead, when they got Linux going as virtualized servers on mainframes, it not only brought life back to the division but became a significant source of revenue for the company.  For IBM, that was a huge deal.  It didn't hurt that the evil IBM suddenly became the white knight defender of open source software (aka IBM v. SCO and associated lawsuits).

I don't see the EFF "endorsement" (as little as that is) to be as significant as either of those two events for open source software.  It would be interesting looking in hindsight what kind of "killer app" may show up to spur on Bitcoins.  This has been speculated in numerous other postings on the forum here, but at this point in time I don't think anybody knows what it might be.

I don't think it has been discovered or invented yet, but to me Bitcoins has the feel of a technology that is going to launch into that kind of stratum of concepts eventually, as when it hits the big time it will hit it hard.  We're still at a stage with the idea right now where it is mainly early adopters and experimenters.  All that the EFF acceptance has pointed out is that perhaps the currency is moving away from that first round of acceptance to something perhaps a little mainstream.

A world-wide crash of major currencies might spur on acceptance of Bitcoins in a big way, particularly if hyperinflation follows.  I hope that isn't the real killer app, however.

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jimbobway
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November 14, 2010, 09:23:33 PM
 #8

You are welcome to you own opinions. :-). I just see this matter resembling the recent Citizens United case where the supreme court ruled that it was legal for corporations to fund political orgs anonymously.  The EFF accepting bitcoin donations is not a supreme court ruling but it is more of the principle of accepting anonymous bitcoin donations.  The EFF at the moment appears to be on Bitcoin's side and hopefully the association/relationship continues to grow.    
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November 16, 2010, 03:02:22 PM
 #9

Not the best wording but the article has received a lot of attention. I don't think that the EFF is in a position to grant legal protection...maybe "legal assistance".

However, bitcoin does not really need any legal protection -- it is not legal tender, it has no "intrinsic" value, it is not pretending to be a political monetary unit, and it doesn't break any laws -- it is simply a reusable cryptographic proof-of-work. It doesn't even violate copyright laws. So, for governments to legislate against it or to attack it with existing laws, they would first have to recognize bitcoin as having value. If they did that, then other cryptographic POW systems would gain instant credibility and the anonymous e-currency business would be off to the races!

Founding Director, Bitcoin Foundation
I also cover the bitcoin economy for Forbes, American Banker, PaymentsSource, and CoinDesk.
The Madhatter
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November 16, 2010, 03:18:32 PM
 #10

When I see/hear the term "legal protection" I always think of a mafia being paid-off to leave someone alone. Damn those protection rackets. Tongue
jimbobway
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November 16, 2010, 06:36:53 PM
 #11

Hey Jim, many thanks for writing the article. I know these things take time and I certainly appreciate the effort you're putting in to help Bitcoin.

I hope I'm not being a jerk here for giving some constructive criticism of the article, sorry about that ... but I feel slightly uncomfortable with putting out the idea that Bitcoin will be used for subversive activities. It was really hard for the EFF to make the decision to support Bitcoin, and I'm worried that if they see an article with such things in it they may pull out, or at the very least become quite uncomfortable with their decision to use Bitcoin. It's not good PR for them.

These are the types of bad things that the anti-Bitcoin crowd will accuse Bitcoin of being, and we shouldn't offer it up from our own ranks. Maybe I'm wrong here though, and again, I don't want to come off the wrong way.

The article could be easily modified to simply remove some of the negative stuff, specifically this section "Users of Bitcoin who conduct business with the wrong people could face charges of money laundering, identity theft, and/or fraud. Honest Bitcoin users could be implicated in crimes by criminals engaging in phishing or malware and stealing identities."

....and also most of the second paragraph.

It's up to you though ultimately since it's your article and your blog. Everything you say is accurate, but the question is if we should be saying those things at all right now about Bitcoin. It might scare off certain people who otherwise would just see Bitcoin as innocent fun.

Thx for your constructive criticism.  As you may know, I am "pro" bitcoin and my articles tend to lean to promoting bitcoin.  I chose to add those paragraphs because I think the reader deserves to know the whole truth.  For example, the latest scandals involving buybitcoins.com, mtgox.com, and bitcoinmarket.com were a major setback to the bitcoin movement.  I think it is clear that bitcoin will face some legal battles as more people are aware of it.  I think my journalistic side is trying to cover both sides of the story, but by the end of the article I hope I give the impression that the future of bitcoin is in good hands.  I think I am more of a blogger than a journalist so I guess I have some flexibility on how I portray stories.  But, thx for your criticism and I will keep what you say in mind.
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