Bitcoin is licensed under the MIT license
<https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/COPYING>) 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)
(This is just an approximation. A final version would probably have to include
a restriction to some soundalikes like BITKOIN, BIITCOIN,…)
This way, I could legitimate use this software to create my own crypto coin, or
use it in Ethereum, Litecoin or any of the other legitimate cryptos, but I
could not make my “Bitcoin Whatever” fork and keep using this software as the
basis for it. I could also fork the bitcoin blockchain to create “Bcoin
lightspeed” but not “Bitcoin lightspeed” for instance.
I know this would probably not prevent the explosion of forks in the future,
but maybe it could help mitigate the confusion among the users and the harm to
this community. Even if its enforceability is dubious, at least any infringing
project would be exposed to some liability. I see myself some possible
loopholes the way the license addendum is written. My intention is not to
arrive immediately to a final wording but to know if there is some value to the
idea of changing the license with this purpose.
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