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October 26, 2011, 01:38:14 PM
 #81

US Code 18 -486 deals with coinage.  Bitcoins don't have physical coins and thus don't meet the requirements of US Code 18-486.  IIRC the word "current money" has a legal definition to mean legal tender.  As in coinage accepted as legal tender.  Granted I have no cites for this (yet) so feel free to disregard that portion.  Still even without the distinction of "current money"  18-486 only applies to physical coinage and thus doesn't apply to bitcoin.

He was also prosecuted under US Code 18-485.
Quote
Whoever falsely makes, forges, or counterfeits any coin or bar in resemblance or similitude of any coin of a denomination higher than 5 cents or any gold or silver bar coined or stamped at any mint or assay office of the United States, or in resemblance or similitude of any foreign gold or silver coin current in the United States or in actual use and circulation as money within the United States; or
Whoever passes, utters, publishes, sells, possesses, or brings into the United States any false, forged, or counterfeit coin or bar, knowing the same to be false, forged, or counterfeit, with intent to defraud any body politic or corporate, or any person, or attempts the commission of any offense described in this paragraph—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than fifteen years, or both.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/485.html

Essentially counterfeitting US coins.  A counterfeit doesn't have to be an exact replica.  If the intent of your coin is to be similar to US coinage that is may be mistaken for US coinage you have violated 18-485.

He was also prosecuted under US Code 18-514
Quote
514. Fictitious obligations
How Current is This? (a) Whoever, with the intent to defraud—
(1) draws, prints, processes, produces, publishes, or otherwise makes, or attempts or causes the same, within the United States;
(2) passes, utters, presents, offers, brokers, issues, sells, or attempts or causes the same, or with like intent possesses, within the United States; or
(3) utilizes interstate or foreign commerce, including the use of the mails or wire, radio, or other electronic communication, to transmit, transport, ship, move, transfer, or attempts or causes the same, to, from, or through the United States,
any false or fictitious instrument, document, or other item appearing, representing, purporting, or contriving through scheme or artifice, to be an actual security or other financial instrument issued under the authority of the United States, a foreign government, a State or other political subdivision of the United States, or an organization, shall be guilty of a class B felony.
(b) For purposes of this section, any term used in this section that is defined in section 513 (c) has the same meaning given such term in section 513 (c).
(c) The United States Secret Service, in addition to any other agency having such authority, shall have authority to investigate offenses under this section

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/514.html

You can't create any insturment or document (currency or not) that implies a connection to US government if none exists.  That includes common US government symbosl, phrases, icons, and imagery.  That doesn't apply to Bitcoin either.   To remain outside this statute it is important to not imply any sort of connection to US government (or any government because they may also have similar laws).  Being a open source group we have no control over other members but we can use peer influence to police the actions of others.  


It is very important (at least in the US) to never use the phrase "legal tender" in connection with Bitcoin.  Bitcoin has no status as "legal tender".  Even states are prohibited from issuing legal tender.  Gold & Silver are not considered legal tender in the US (unless minted by US govt and then only for the face value - often $20 on a one ounce coin ~$1600 worth of gold).   Bitcoin can NOT be used to satisfy any debt or obligation under US law.  If you did have a debt you wanted to pay off with Bitcoins it would need to be structured as a two part transaction.

1) You sell me 100 BTC for $320.
2) You use that $320 to pay a debt you owe me of $320.

No actual money needs to change hands however it should be clearly recorded that you aren't paying a debt in bitcoins.  You are selling me bitcoins and I am applying those USD I owe you against an existing debt in US you owe me.  This can even be agreed upon in advance via contract or terms of service to allow regular payments but any contract/language/terminology should indicate that an exchange from BTC to USD is occurring and then only USD are being applied towards the debt.   

It may be a trivial distinction but there are many legal private currencies in existence in the US.  A private currency isn't illegal.  Making coins which resemble US coins is illegal, counterfitting is illegal, committing fraud is illegal, attempting to overthrow portions of the federal government is illegal, passing coinage off as "legal tender" is illegal.  None of the legal private currencies in the link below attempt to any of those things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_community_currencies_in_the_United_States

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.

Of course proving a negative is impossible. The law never defines legal it only defines illegal. If you believe Bitcoin is illegal then please provide the statute it violates.  

Everything in this post (and any other posts by author) should be considered the opinion of the author and does not constitute legal advice.  If you are concerned with the legality of Bitcoins under US law you should consult with a licensed attorney.

Gerald Davis  CEO, Tangible Cryptography Inc.
BitSimple. A simpler way to buy and sell bitcoins
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October 26, 2011, 02:04:59 PM
 #82

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.
It does! Bitcoin competes with the US dollar. Nothing (name it whatever you like) is allowed to compete with the US dollar. Period.

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October 26, 2011, 02:12:18 PM
 #83

Bitcoin cannot be used to pay debt.  Taxation is debt. Does this then also not imply that bitcoin cannot be taxed.

I was recently harangued on these very forums for saying that bitcoins could not be taxed. I am not US citizen so do not know US system of taxation.

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October 26, 2011, 02:13:27 PM
 #84

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.
It does! Bitcoin competes with the US dollar. Nothing (name it whatever you like) is allowed to compete with the US dollar. Period.
Does this include foreign currencies such as Euro, Yen, Rub and GBP?

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October 26, 2011, 02:14:34 PM
 #85

Bitcoin cannot be used to pay debt.  Taxation is debt. Does this then also not imply that bitcoin cannot be taxed.

I was recently harangued on these very forums for saying that bitcoins could not be taxed. I am not US citizen so do not know US system of taxation.


Taxation isn't debt.  Taxation is a transfer of wealth but it isn't debt anymore than your employer paying you a salary is "debt".

Yes an obligation to pay taxes on transactions in Bitcoins exists just the same as dollars.
Transactions in other alternate currencies are taxed.  
Hell you owe taxes (in US) even if paid in barter.

How effective enforcement of that taxation can be if both parties are using Bitcoin is another issue but that doesn't change the legal requirement.
Cryptography makes enforcement of child porn laws more difficult but cryptography doesn't magically make child porn legal.

Gerald Davis  CEO, Tangible Cryptography Inc.
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October 26, 2011, 02:18:11 PM
 #86

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.
It does! Bitcoin competes with the US dollar. Nothing (name it whatever you like) is allowed to compete with the US dollar. Period.

Please provide a cite to this "nothing can compete with the US Dollar" statute. 

Also please explain these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_barter_network
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BerkShares
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithaca_Hours

Gerald Davis  CEO, Tangible Cryptography Inc.
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October 26, 2011, 02:23:38 PM
 #87

Bitcoin cannot be used to pay debt.  Taxation is debt. Does this then also not imply that bitcoin cannot be taxed.

I was recently harangued on these very forums for saying that bitcoins could not be taxed. I am not US citizen so do not know US system of taxation.


Taxation isn't debt....
i should have said taxation is payment of a debt. I'll take the rest of your point. thanks

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October 26, 2011, 02:36:35 PM
 #88

Please provide a cite to this "nothing can compete with the US Dollar" statute. 
Sure.

...
But there is more:

NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions are specifically marketed to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with the circulating coinage of the United States. Consequently, prosecutors with the United States Department of Justice have concluded that the use of NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions violates 18 U.S.C. § 486, and is a crime.


http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?flash=yes&action=press_release&id=710
...

Does this include foreign currencies such as Euro, Yen, Rub and GBP?
Yes, of course it does! If you're an oil producer try to sell your crude oil priced in euro... Saddam Husein did that back in 2002 and we witnessed what happened. Moammar Gadhafi tried to tie the price of his oil to gold and the same happened again.

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October 26, 2011, 02:42:25 PM
 #89

Please provide a cite to this "nothing can compete with the US Dollar" statute. 
Sure.

...
But there is more:

NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions are specifically marketed to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with the circulating coinage of the United States. Consequently, prosecutors with the United States Department of Justice have concluded that the use of NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions violates 18 U.S.C. § 486, and is a crime.


http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?flash=yes&action=press_release&id=710
...

Does this include foreign currencies such as Euro, Yen, Rub and GBP?
Yes, of course it does! If you're an oil producer try to sell your crude oil priced in euro... Saddam Husein did that back in 2002 and we witnessed what happened. Moammar Gadhafi tried to tie the price of his oil to gold and the same happened again.
so is there a law that prohibits americans from exchanging their dollars for other currencies such as Euro's. How do american folk buy stuff when they go on holiday to europe?

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October 26, 2011, 04:41:56 PM
 #90

is it possible to make an alternative currency illegal? wouldnt that be like the US banning the exchange of euros?

It already is illegal.
http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/defendant-convicted-of-minting-his-own-currency

The question is wether bitcoin is a currency, legally.

i think his conviction was justified.  if you've ever looked at the Liberty Dollars he was issuing, they look just like real ones.
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October 26, 2011, 04:43:13 PM
 #91

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.
It does! Bitcoin competes with the US dollar. Nothing (name it whatever you like) is allowed to compete with the US dollar. Period.

Please provide a cite to this "nothing can compete with the US Dollar" statute. 

Also please explain these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_barter_network
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BerkShares
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithaca_Hours

not to mention the recent Utah statute that legalizes gold and silver.
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October 26, 2011, 04:59:12 PM
 #92


Bitcoin is legal under current US law.

You have a source or link for that? Like I said, IANAL, but read this:


Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/486.html

True, thats about physical coins. But there is more:

NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions are specifically marketed to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with the circulating coinage of the United States. Consequently, prosecutors with the United States Department of Justice have concluded that the use of NORFED’s "Liberty Dollar" medallions violates 18 U.S.C. § 486, and is a crime.


http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?flash=yes&action=press_release&id=710

That really doesnt seem to rhyme with your (interpretation of ?) law.

even the Medallions you've quoted are physical also.  i don't get your point how Bitcoins are illegal based on these references.
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October 26, 2011, 05:00:02 PM
 #93

is it possible to make an alternative currency illegal? wouldnt that be like the US banning the exchange of euros?

It already is illegal.
http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/defendant-convicted-of-minting-his-own-currency

The question is wether bitcoin is a currency, legally.

i think his conviction was justified.  if you've ever looked at the Liberty Dollars he was issuing, they look just like real ones.

Exactly.  I think a photo will help.



He was convicted because he was selling coins which were deceptively similar to US legal tender, using language that indicate a connection to US govt, and deceptively using less precious metal than face value of coin.  For example the $10 silver coin had ~$6 worth of silver in it.  Language on the website indicated that the coins were backed by silver and could be redeemed for silver certifercite.  What wasn't mentioned is that redeeming a $10 coin (purchased for $10 USD) would get you a $6 silver cert which could be redeemed for an equivelent amount in silver based on spot prices.

It was fraud and it is a poor example to illustrate the legality of Bitcoin.

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October 26, 2011, 05:06:36 PM
 #94

To my knowledge Bitcoin doesn't violate any current US statutes.
It does! Bitcoin competes with the US dollar. Nothing (name it whatever you like) is allowed to compete with the US dollar. Period.

Please provide a cite to this "nothing can compete with the US Dollar" statute. 

Also please explain these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_barter_network
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BerkShares
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithaca_Hours
I don't think there is any such law...however, I think the point that was being made is that laws don't necessarily restrain government action, especially in this regard.  Show me the statute the prohibits foreign nations from selling their oil for gold.  You won't find it, and yet it would seem wars have been waged to prevent it.

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October 26, 2011, 05:07:10 PM
 #95

is it possible to make an alternative currency illegal? wouldnt that be like the US banning the exchange of euros?

It already is illegal.
http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/defendant-convicted-of-minting-his-own-currency

The question is wether bitcoin is a currency, legally.

i think his conviction was justified.  if you've ever looked at the Liberty Dollars he was issuing, they look just like real ones.

Exactly.  I think a photo will help.



He was convicted because he was selling coins which were deceptively similar to US legal tender, using language that indicate a connection to US govt, and deceptively using less precious metal than face value of coin.  For example the $10 silver coin had ~$6 worth of silver in it.  Language on the website indicated that the coins were backed by silver and could be redeemed for silver certifercite.  What wasn't mentioned is that redeeming a $10 coin (purchased for $10 USD) would get you a $6 silver cert which could be redeemed for an equivelent amount in silver based on spot prices.

It was fraud and it is a poor example to illustrate the legality of Bitcoin.

thank you.  i was hunting around for that exact pic but couldn't find it.
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October 26, 2011, 05:10:00 PM
 #96

is it possible to make an alternative currency illegal? wouldnt that be like the US banning the exchange of euros?

It already is illegal.
http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/defendant-convicted-of-minting-his-own-currency

The question is wether bitcoin is a currency, legally.

i think his conviction was justified.  if you've ever looked at the Liberty Dollars he was issuing, they look just like real ones.

Exactly.  I think a photo will help.



He was convicted because he was selling coins which were deceptively similar to US legal tender, using language that indicate a connection to US govt, and deceptively using less precious metal than face value of coin.  For example the $10 silver coin had ~$6 worth of silver in it.  Language on the website indicated that the coins were backed by silver and could be redeemed for silver certifercite.  What wasn't mentioned is that redeeming a $10 coin (purchased for $10 USD) would get you a $6 silver cert which could be redeemed for an equivelent amount in silver based on spot prices.

It was fraud and it is a poor example to illustrate the legality of Bitcoin.


 +1  TL;DR of the LD issue; They threw the book at his ass for counterfitting money......

If you're not excited by the idea of being an early adopter 'now', then you should come back in three or four years and either tell us "Told you it'd never work!" or join what should, by then, be a much more stable and easier-to-use system. - GA
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October 26, 2011, 05:12:19 PM
 #97

Coinabul doesnt sell liberty dollars  Cheesy

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October 26, 2011, 05:14:42 PM
 #98

And DialCoin isn't connected to banks. FYI, if all the banks crash and burn on us, DialCoin will still get you guys your bitcoins in 30 seconds.

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October 26, 2011, 05:21:51 PM
 #99

Looking in to it further, I have to agree it doesnt appear to be illegal in the US at this point.
The statement made by the attorney Tompkins however, is either incorrect or extremely misleading.

I aint signing anything.
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October 26, 2011, 05:23:37 PM
 #100

 fucking dial coin! meh!  $10 for 0.5 BTC. how the fuck does that help anything?

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