Bitcoin has been Forked left, right and centre of the past six months, starting with the infamous Bitcoin Cash hardfork and snowballing into an orgy of coin forking with all kinds of Bitcoin mutations being conceived. Where as many are seeing this as ‘free money’ it has begun to raise some concerns in the Bitcoin developer community.
In a recent proposal from Jose Femenias though it would seem things could be taking a turn for the worst:
Bitcoin is licensed under the MIT license which is one of the most permissive licenses widely in use.
While this almost restriction-less license has proved useful to many software projects, I think it could be wise to question its current suitability for this project, given the recent history.
The difficulty among the general population to distinguish between Bitcoin (the protocol and software) and bitcoin (the currency) arises spontaneously from the intimate entanglement of both.
The current list of Bitcoin lookalikes includes: Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin God, Bitcoin Clashic, Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Hot, Bitcoin X, Oil Bitcoin, Bitcoin World, Lightning Bitcoin…
This recent flurry of hard forks is, IMHO, exacerbating the confusion about the very nature of the project, and harming it in many ways.
Although the liberal MIT license is (rightfully) beneficial to many other projects, companies and individuals, it is my belief that several projects are unfairly taking advantage of this generous license to attack Bitcoin (both the software and the currency), confuse the public, and gain personal profit in a way that is severely harming the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Therefore, I’d like to raise the possibility of amending the MIT license in a simple way, by adding a line such as:
NO PART OF THIS SOFTWARE CAN BE INCLUDED IN ANY OTHER PROJECT THAT USES THE NAME BITCOIN AS PART OF ITS NAME AND/OR ITS MARKETING MATERIAL UNLESS THE SOFTWARE PRODUCED BY THAT PROJECT IS FULLY COMPATIBLE WITH THE BITCOIN (CORE) BLOCKCHAIN
Are People Really That Confused?
A criticism that is continually made following all the recent and ongoing Bitcoin forking is that people coming into this space will be confused, however i’m not so sure this is true. I think possibly Bitcoin Cash may cause a few questions to be asked by people just jumping into this space but i’m doubtful if there have been a huge number of people buying the wrong Bitcoin. 99% of the Bitcoin hard forks being released now die within a few hours, they are pump and dump scams which the general public and newbies to Bitcoin will never hear about.
Should the ‘Bitcoin’ brand be protected?
The Bitcoin brand is protected, it’s protected by the people that endorse it and support it’s chain over it’s poor imitations. We should not under any circumstances need to protect the Bitcoin name through legal statements, this contradicts everything Bitcoin was designed for.
The people decide what the ‘Real Bitcoin’ is not the developers. If the majority of the user base decide two years down the road that Bitcoin Cash or Bitcoin Gold is in fact the ‘Real Bitcoin’ then it is, no legal battle should be required to make this so. It’s all about consensus after all, isn’t it?
This Absolutely Must Not Happen
This under no circumstances should this be allowed to happen, to change the license such that ownership is acquired of the Bitcoin brand is a very dangerous mistake, it goes against everything Bitcoin stands for. If such a change is made I believe it could create the biggest divide in the Bitcoin community we’ve ever seen with results that could be pretty catastrophic.
We agree that yes, Bitcoin (BTC) is the ‘Real Bitcoin’ and others that use the name are attempting to build on the back of other peoples hard work, but none are a threat and if they were then it would be because they are offering a better solution. If the majority of people jump ship it will be because a better option has been provided, if a better option is not provided than the Bitcoin chain we all consider to be the ‘Real Bitcoin’ (with the exception of Roger Ver and a few of his disciples) will remain so.