Block CEO and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has advocated forming a charity to safeguard the rights and interests of open-source Bitcoin developers, who are frequently subjected to “litigation” and “threats.”
In an email to the bitcoin-dev mailing list on January 12, Jack Dorsey noted that the nonprofit’s goal is to protect Bitcoin developers from these threats in order to avoid contributors and maintainers from capitulating, which is all too frequently the case because many lack legal backing.
“The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization that attempts to reduce legal hassles that deter software engineers from actively developing Bitcoin and related projects like the Lightning Network, Bitcoin privacy protocols, and the like,” according to the email.
Jonas Schnelli, the project’s maintainer, stood down in October 2021, citing rising “legal concerns for Bitcoin developers” and recommending that new contributors “join secretly.” Two more developers quit the project in December. After three years of effort, Samuel Dobson announced early that month that he would no longer support Bitcoin Core in order to focus on his Ph.D., and John Newbery followed suit a few days later, stating he was “moving on to other things.”
According to the email co-signed by the Fund’s board, comprising of himself, Chaincode Labs co-founder Alex Morcos, and professor Martin White, Jack Dorsey project intends to minimize such losses by “identifying and retaining defense counsel, creating litigation strategy, and paying legal fees.”
The email stated, “This is a free and optional option for developers to take use of if they so desire.” “The Fund will begin with a group of part-time and volunteer lawyers. The Fund’s board of directors will decide which lawsuits and defendants it will assist in defending.”
The Fund’s first task, according to the email, will be to take over and manage the defense of the Tulip Trading litigation, in which Craig Wright alleges he was a victim of theft of the private keys linked to billions of dollars worth of bitcoin drained in the Mt. Gox attack. Schnelli, Wladimir Van Der Laan, Marco Falke, Pieter Wuille, Peter Todd, and Matthew Corallo, among others, are notable Bitcoin developers and Bitcoin Core maintainers.
The email also stated that the program is not currently seeking further money, but that it may do so in the future at the discretion of the board.
Does Jack Dorsey own Bitcoin?
Jack Dorsey is a big supporter of Bitcoin, saying at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami earlier this year that the cryptocurrency “changes everything” for him and that “I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on, and I don’t think there’s anything more enabling for people around the world.”
Block (previously Square), where Dorsey remains CEO, has made significant Bitcoin investments. According to an article published in Bitcoin Magazine in October, the business controlled almost 8,027 Bitcoins. The current value of the holdings would be $390 million.