Bitcoin Cash Is Bitcoin? Lawsuits Won’t Stop the Fight Over Bitcoin’s Name

“Roger Ver deserves to go to (back to) jail for fraud.”

For those not immersed in Bitcoin‘s byzantine politics, it might seem strange to see Ragnar Lifthrasir, a self-described “passionate advocate for Bitcoin,” wish incarceration on an early adopter and fervent evangelist the community once called “Bitcoin Jesus.”

But Lifthrasir isn’t alone in his desire to lock Ver up a second time (Ver was sentenced to 10 months in prison in 2002 for selling explosives on eBay). His j’accuse was retweeted over 500 times in just over 24 hours, and a Reddit thread on the same subject featured multiple accusations of fraud and calls for jail time.

Rather, the allegations started after it was noticed that the block explorer, a tool for visualizing data on Bitcoin.com, an educational site that Roger Ver owns, had labeled what many consider the “Bitcoin cash protocol,” the version of the blockchain that forked off Bitcoin this past August, “Bitcoin.”

Just “Bitcoin.”

And for many, like Lifthrasir, that slight deviation from how the majority defines the two competing cryptocurrencies was the last straw.

Indeed, after nearly a year of infighting between the two camps, some Reddit users went so far as to call for people to report Bitcoin.com to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at the FBI. And, at time of writing, a Telegram group called “Bitcoin.com lawsuit crowdfund” has even picked up more than 900 members.

Even those who have expressed positivity toward the Bitcoin cash blockchain and its potential value as yet another experimentation in the market, were aghast.

Cobra, a pseudonymous cryptocurrency enthusiast, told CoinDesk, “I think it’s criminal behavior.”

Cobra continued:

“While it’s fine for one to have the personal opinion that Bitcoin cash is similar to what was described in the Bitcoin white paper, presenting Bitcoin cash itself as Bitcoin on a commercial website visited by thousands of newbies daily looking to learn about the actual Bitcoin is just deceptive and fraudulent.”

Round two … or three?  

Stepping back, the fight that Roger Ver finds himself at the center of is rather an age-old argument about who or what defines Bitcoin. Is it the code? The white paper?

Or perhaps it’s the case, as Casa engineer Jameson Lopp argued, that “There is no web site, forum, social media account, foundation, code repository, conference, enterprise alliance, or organization of any kind that defines Bitcoin.”

Certainly, there have been varying interpretations, a fact made worse by the lack of clear agreement on a common reference point.

Ver’s own belief, which he’s expressed multiple times over the years, is that the true Bitcoin must fulfill “Satoshi’s vision” of a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” a term laid down in the original white paper, published in 2009.

And this lack of strong historical agreement appears to have become fodder for Ver, who has arguably sought to highlight this fact in recent public statements.

Indeed, Bitcoin‘s own software has introduced more than one interpretation over the years, though the goal has always been the same, to help those running the software judge the validity of a transaction history, if and when there are competing versions.

To this day, the computing program includes something called “best chain” logic in its consensus rules, though it differs from how it was originally implemented.

At launch, the rule stated that the correct Bitcoin blockchain was the “longest chain,” the one with the largest number blocks of data contributed by miners. Very early on, though, that rule was changed to follow the chain with the most “proof of work,” the computing power expended by miners, which updates and secures the blockchain.

Developers have largely agreed the change was for the better, arguing that the “longest chain” logic was flawed. However, it’s noteworthy that “longest chain” has been an element of the argument for years, even being frequently evoked by businesses in the debate leading up to the Bitcoin cash fork and thereafter in other fork debates. 

A provocation  

Still, while Ver’s point may be rooted in a longstanding debate, his methods for disseminating his views appear to be sparking outrage.

On Friday, for instance, Ver tweeted a list of all the ways that one might consider a piece of software “Bitcoin,” including criteria he credits to Bitcoin cash: low fees and fast and reliable payments.

In fact, he went so far as to argue that Bitcoin cash beat out Bitcoin core in every category, except for “longest chain, with most proof of work.” (Because Bitcoin core’s network of miners is larger, the chain unquestionably has more computational power.)

Tensions have continued to run high since then, primarily because Ver continues to refer to Bitcoin cash as Bitcoin.

Speaking to CoinDesk, however, he defended his actions and dismissed the threat of litigation, saying that it “seems strange” as “Bitcoin is open source and permissionless.” Ver believes, in short, that…

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