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Author Topic: [ANN] Cryptocurrency Legal Advocacy Group (CLAG)  (Read 8813 times)
JDBound
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April 10, 2012, 11:02:59 PM
 #1

All,

(Please do not move this thread to the legal section)

My name is Matthew Elias and I am part of a small group of law students forming a Cryptocurrency Legal Advocacy Group (CLAG). The directors of this group are students at the University of Mississippi School of Law, and are studying to become full fledged attorneys. We are in the process of including students from other law schools in the U.S. and around the world. This idea is loosely based on https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=49841.0

We have setup a preliminary site at http://www.theclag.org/ and are in the process of becoming a Mississippi Non-Profit Corporation (501(c)3, and registered MS charity).
Our incorporation documents can be found here and will be updated upon approval from the MS SOS:
http://www.pdfhost.net/index.php?Action=Download&File=8469b84eb1cf0623690f667abfe41503

To clarify, we have more than a year to register as a 501(c)3, and that form is a bear, so I will keep everyone apprised of progress on that.

This work is being carried out under the guidance of Prof. Mercer Bullard. Prof. Bullard is one of the foremost securities law experts in the world. http://www.law.olemiss.edu/faculty_profiles/faculty_bullard.html . He is really intrigued by the idea of cryptocurrencies, and supports their continued development and adoption. We are also working to contact Wendy Seltzer of the Tor project and Cindy Cohn of the EFF to see if they would be willing to lend their expertise to this effort.

My vision is for CLAG to become a trusted source of legal news and scholarship related to cryptocurrencies. CLAG will release memoranda on a regular basis assessing legal issues related to cryptocurrencies (most topics will be Bitcoin related). For example, our first memo, which we hope to have up by the end of this week will assess the tax-ability of cryptocurrencies under a relatively standard taxation regime. Our inherent bias will be that of a U.S. perspective, but we will do our best to assess these issues from as jurisdictionally-neutral a perspective as is possible. Topics will be selected at the discretion of the board of directors. We also hope to do a short, quick legal FAQ on cryptocurrencies. CLAG functions to provide clarity, education, and consultation, and is in no way providing legal advice.

I won't go into the misleading and perfunctory legal opinions which have been espoused on this forum, however I will state that CLAG will strive to be an objective source of information, providing legal clarity on issues surrounding cryptocurrencies.

Questions:

Q: Don't other organizations exist which can take on this exact issue?
A: Maybe. CLAG is positioned as the first-mover in this area. If someone comes along and is able to do it better then so be it.

Q: How can anyone trust law students with such an important issue?
A: This question raises several points. First, attorneys will certainly shape the law in this area by choosing certain arguments, and winning and losing on them. As it exists now however, there is not a great deal of litigation or adjudication happening with cryptocurrencies. To my second point then, because these questions are largely academic, abstract, and metaphysical in nature, unpaid law students are in a great position to tackle them. The risk facing an attorney considering taking on a Bitcoin related case can be untenable, and thus again, the unpaid research of students can be of great value.

Q: How are donations used?
A: Down the road, donations could be a vehicle for a legal fund for actions brought against developers or large miners (maybe). I think in the immediate term though, holding the worlds first cryptocurrnecy legal conference, and attempting to encourage as much scholarship on this issue as possible would be the most beneficial use of funding. Recouping the small amount of overhead is another obvious use.

Q: What if donations go to some bogus cryptocurrency?
A: Consistent with our public purpose, I don't see this as likely. Ear-marked donations may be an option in the future, but right now we are essentially using the terms bitcoin and cryptocurrency synonymously. I also think that it is clear that other cryptocurrencies may arise in the near future. And while they may not ever reach the stature or ubiquity of bitcoin (but... they may), they will undoubtedly share many of the same legal issues.  

Q: Why are there only four directors listed on your site when your bylaws require five.
A: We are in the process of filling the vacancy.

Q: Isn't this just centralizing something to its detriment?
A: This is a legitimate concern, and CLAG recognizes the importance of decentralization to all cryptocurrencies. The interplay between cryptocurrencies and various legal systems and jurisdictions is one of the few places from which I think projects can benefit from some centralization. Time will tell if centralized legal advocacy is what brings down cryptocurrencies.




Just to reiterate, I know its not much to look at right now, but we will have our first memo up by the end of this week and more to follow. I will be glad to answer any questions that are not answered by the incorporation docs or the answers above. We also need a logo if anyone is interested. You can donate to CLAG at:
1LkJBaMURdB6bWA6DRFeDoYyYJzsXLhtG8



Matthew Elias
Cryptocurrency Legal Advocacy Group
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April 10, 2012, 11:03:31 PM
 #2

First memo is up. We will be on a brief hiatus until early-mid May due to exams. Please refer back here for upcoming topics.
CM (CLAG Memorandum)

CM#1001 - 4/15/12 - Staying Between the Lines: A Survey of U.S. Income Taxation and its Ramifications on Cryptocurrencies
http://www.theclag.org/cm1001/

CM#1002 - 5/27/12

CM#1003 - 6/10/12

CM#1004 - 6/24/12

CM#1005 - 7/8/12

CM#1006 - 7/22/12

CM#1007 - 8/5/12

CM#1008 - 8/19/12

CM#1009 - 9/2/12


We will also be working on providing other content in the form of legal news and commentary implicating cryptocurrencies in the interim.
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April 10, 2012, 11:04:00 PM
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reserved
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April 10, 2012, 11:06:47 PM
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I wish you and group luck on your venture! It's definitely something the community has needed for a long time.
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April 10, 2012, 11:22:59 PM
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A reminder to everyone that Matthew Elias is the one behind the October 2011 paper "Bitcoin: Tempering the Digital Ring of Gyges or Implausible Pecuniary Privacy"
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=40783.0

I think the Cryptocurrency Legal Advocacy Group is a great idea - donated!


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April 10, 2012, 11:33:01 PM
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I am looking forward to your views on bitcoin (including if bitcoin is a commodity or not.)  I hope you guys can win some legal battles for us.

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April 11, 2012, 01:01:58 AM
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Sounds great.

Quote
We are in the process of including students from other law schools in the U.S. and around the world.

How are you doing this? Are there some popular law student forums that you can solicit members on?

Is there a danger that by having law student form and run this that established lawyers will be disinclined to join? Is there any precedent for legal advocacy groups founded and fun by students?
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April 11, 2012, 01:16:30 AM
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How are you doing this? Are there some popular law student forums that you can solicit members on?

We are doing this primarily through contacting Law and Technology Journals and inquiring as to whether any of their members are interested in participating. We are also reaching out to career services offices. If there are law student forums I do not know of them.

Is there a danger that by having law student form and run this that established lawyers will be disinclined to join? Is there any precedent for legal advocacy groups founded and fun by students?

That is not a danger. Two licensed U.S. attorneys (in MS and D.C.) have already helped tremendously with this effort. Further, students do not remain in a static state. For instance, I will be graduating in 7 months and will no longer be a student. The extent to which this remains a student org. in years to come remains to be seen. I do not think that a student org. qua student org. disincentivizes licensed attorneys from participating.

There are numerous legal advocacy groups similarly positioned all over the country and the world.
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April 11, 2012, 01:46:23 AM
 #9

As I told Matthew when I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago, I also think this is a fantastic idea and plan on helping the CLAG however I can. Legal and regulatory uncertainty is perhaps the biggest barrier for companies who might be thinking of launching projects involving Bitcoin, and having a reliable source of up-to-date accurate information about the issues will be incredibly valuable.

Hopefully in a couple of years the CLAG's biggest problem will be figuring out what it's role should be as similar groups, inspired by the CLAG, spring up all over the world to tackle the unique legal issues in each country.

How often do you get the chance to work on a potentially world-changing project?
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April 11, 2012, 01:52:06 AM
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*holds nose and subscribes*
Yay! This is a great idea until someone someday comes up with a decentralized form of law.  Wink

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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April 11, 2012, 02:06:00 AM
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someone someday comes up with a decentralized form of law.  Wink

+1, know that at least 50% of my idle thought is spent considering this
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April 11, 2012, 02:22:51 AM
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I'm waiting for the obligatory "Here's another Matthew trying to start an organization" jokes. Goons? Are you sleeping?

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April 11, 2012, 02:31:42 AM
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*holds nose and subscribes*
Yay! This is a great idea until someone someday comes up with a decentralized form of law.  Wink

It already exists. It's called physical reality.

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April 11, 2012, 03:02:21 AM
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Initiatives like this one is what Bitcoin needs now. Technically speaking Bitcoin works, and has been subject to and survived lots of technical scrutiny. Addressing legal uncertainty is the next big step, and is a prerequisite for serious business development and growth of Bitcoin economy.

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April 11, 2012, 03:12:06 AM
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I wish you the best of luck on this!

Being an business owner and an MSB in the US, myself along with most of the Bitcoin Business Owners deal with legalities and compliance on a daily basis.

We even have our own legal team who've spent hours and hours of research. I'm not the only one who's doing this.

Let's get in touch, and see how we can both help each other.

There is a lot to gain, and as my grandfather said 'Knowledge is no good unless it is shared generously onto others'

-Charlie

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April 11, 2012, 03:14:42 AM
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I wish you the best of luck on this!

Being an business owner and an MSB in the US, myself along with most of the Bitcoin Business Owners deal with legalities and compliance on a daily basis.

We even have our own legal team who've spent hours and hours of research. I'm not the only one who's doing this.

Let's get in touch, and see how we can both help each other.

There is a lot to gain, and as my grandfather said 'Knowledge is no good unless it is shared generously onto others'

-Charlie

My grandfather said that too. He was shot for espionage.

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April 11, 2012, 03:31:40 AM
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I wish you the best of luck on this!

Being an business owner and an MSB in the US, myself along with most of the Bitcoin Business Owners deal with legalities and compliance on a daily basis.

We even have our own legal team who've spent hours and hours of research. I'm not the only one who's doing this.

Let's get in touch, and see how we can both help each other.

There is a lot to gain, and as my grandfather said 'Knowledge is no good unless it is shared generously onto others'

-Charlie

My grandfather said that too. He was shot for espionage.

My grandpa's life was a little better then that  Grin

Bitcoin pioneer. An apostle of Satoshi Nakamoto. A crusader for a new, better, tech-driven society. A dreamer.

More about me: http://CharlieShrem.com
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April 11, 2012, 04:55:25 AM
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This is really good to bitcoin.

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April 11, 2012, 03:01:56 PM
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I am sure all BTC-related businesses have already spent considerable resources on legal aspects. It would be a shame if conclusions and findings of all this effort remained fragmented and hidden. Perhaps a good first step for CLAG would be to get in touch with as many BTC businesses as possible and compile and publish relevant legal adventures to date. The next step would then involve coordination of future efforts, advocacy, and general PR.

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April 11, 2012, 04:34:17 PM
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I am sure all BTC-related businesses have already spent considerable resources on legal aspects. It would be a shame if conclusions and findings of all this effort remained fragmented and hidden. Perhaps a good first step for CLAG would be to get in touch with as many BTC businesses as possible and compile and publish relevant legal adventures to date. The next step would then involve coordination of future efforts, advocacy, and general PR.

Yup, I agree.

If you see my post above, I wrote the same thing. Personally, we have spent thousands on legal research

Bitcoin pioneer. An apostle of Satoshi Nakamoto. A crusader for a new, better, tech-driven society. A dreamer.

More about me: http://CharlieShrem.com
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