The story in short in case you haven’t heard it. Developers created a virtual currency using Kanye West as the inspiration with a South Park cartoon image of Kanye on the coin. Kanye threatened legal action. The developers then rushed the release date of the coin to immediate and changed the image used to a much less flattering image also from South Park depicting Kanye as a fish. The coin is out there, being mined and stored, but most of the exchanges and developers have taken the message seriously and are staying away from the coin.
A note to Kanye’s legal team: “Congrats! You’re probably the only people reading my blog this week. I don’t mine this coin, I’ve never owned one and I have nothing to do with its inception. I do want to buy some though, just working out where. . .”.
I would like to personally thank Kanye West and his legal team for doing a great service to Bitcoin and the economic revolution already underway. This battle will prove once and for all that lines cannot be drawn in the sand. Decentralization of just about everything will happen and there is nothing anyone can do to stop that (exception: blowing up most of the world and descending society into a new dark age).
First, the profit ‘stolen’ from Kanye West would be a Bitcoin profit, not a USD profit. It might be possible to determine how many bitcoins a business or developer gained from Coinye, but you can’t depict it in USD; the value at inception, exchange and legal action would all be different. The gov would be forced to give BTC a whole lot of legitimacy they are afraid to bestow if Kanye West was awarded a BTC payout from a lawsuit or equally scary, a USD payout citing a fixed cash value for the price of Bitcoin.
But lets say Kanye and his team are successful somehow. The state stands behind him and goes after anyone/anything they can pin down. Developers are sued for defamation and/or profiting from Kanye’s image. Exchanges and businesses that accept the coin are shut down. What next? The coin doesn’t cease to exist at that point. It can still be mined, stored locally and traded even if not through a major exchange.
If governments start shutting down exchanges, exchanges will simply go to the deep web. This where spies, Wikileaks and criminals talk freely- even operate businesses. I also suspect there will soon be an application based exchange similar to what Pirate Bay is working on. A way to facilitate the exchange of virtual currencies through a piece of software instead of using a domain address listed in a country somewhere. No offices or servers, nothing that can be shut down.
Seeing that the Coinye hadn’t been killed by shutting down some businesses, the only remaining option would to ban the trade of Coinye for things of value- ultimately its that value that the legal team is proposing has been stolen. Since the exchange of Coinye for Bitcoin is unstoppable, they would need to ban the transfer of Bitcoin to gov currency and goods to stifle profit from Coinye. This requires a global ban on trading virtual currencies for goods or cash. An impossible feat. Some governments will smartly encourage Bitcoin and profit from its success, there would never be a universal ban. Those countries that do ‘ban’ it will be terribly ineffectual. America spent billions trying to ban drugs- how is that working out? Drugs are physical. They require farming and manufacturing. Drugs make people do wacky conspicuous things. Drugs also ultimately get traded for cash, goods and services- just like Bitcoin. If you can’t ban drugs, you can’t ban an encrypted computer file- give me a break. Maybe ask how well Hollywood’s ban on P2P file trading is going?
As long as someone somewhere is mining Coinye or has a Coinye wallet, and there is no way to stop that, it will easily outlive the man it was named after.
P2P isn’t going away. Its not a bubble about to burst. We are seeing the rise of a new way for human beings to interact. You can accept it and work out how it can best suit you, or you can fight it and be forever immortalized as a fishman.
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