Jack Dorsey helps found non-profit legal defense fund to protect Bitcoin developers

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Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO and current Bitcoin booster, has proposed the creation of a non-profit legal defense fund tasked with protecting Bitcoin developers from increasing litigation efforts. 

Dorsey’s plans were revealed in an email transcript posted to Twitter by self-described “bitcoin enjoyoooor” Zack Voell. In it, Dorsey claims the “Bitcoin community is currently the subject of multi-front litigation. Litigation and continued threats are having their intended effect; individual defendants have chosen to capitulate in the absence of legal support.” The Twitter co-founder goes on to note that “open-source developers, who are often independent, are especially susceptible to legal pressure.” 

In response to what he sees as a growing trend of legal opposition to Bitcoin developers, Dorsey wants to create a “coordinated and formalized response to help defend developers.” Dubbed the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, the new nonprofit will help developers working on all aspects of Bitcoin software and asset development. Dorsey specifically calls out projects like “the Lightning Network, Bitcoin privacy protocols, and the like” in his letter. 

The fund will be empowered to help its clients find and retain legal counsel, develop overall legal strategies for cases relating to Bitcoin and blockchain legal issues, and provide funding to pay for related legal bills. Dorsey framed the organization as a “free and voluntary option for developers to take advantage of if they so wish.” 

At its inception, the Bitcoin Legal Defense fund will consist of a “corps of volunteer and part-time lawyers.” The specific cases undertaken by the fund will be determined by its leadership board. The fund has already named its first target, the ongoing Tulip Trading lawsuit, which involves self-proclaimed Bitcoin creator Craig Steven Wright. The suit was filed against “certain developers alleging breach of fiduciary duty.” The suit resulted from the infamous Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange and the fallout from a hack of the now-defunct exchange which resulted in the theft of nearly $200 million in Bitcoin and other coins. 

The Bitcoin Legal Defense fund will both coordinate the ongoing legal proceedings, and will provide funding to obtain outside counsel as well. This funding is, for now, being provided internally. The Block CEO noted that “the fund is not seeking to raise additional money for its operations but will do so at the direction of the board if needed for further legal action or to pay for staff.” 

Dorsey closed his letter with a promise to share more information on the Bitcoin Defense Fund in the near future.