On Tuesday, 20 January 2015, at 12:40 pm, Peter Todd wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:23:14PM -0500, Matt Whitlock wrote:
> > If you have the private keys for your users' bitcoins, then you are every 
> > bit as much the owner of those bitcoins as your users are. There is no 
> > custodial relationship, as you have both the ability and the right to spend 
> > those bitcoins. Possession of a private key is equivalent to ownership of 
> > the bitcoins controlled by that private key.
> Posessing a private key certainly does not give you an automatic legal
> right to anything. As an example I could sign an agreement with you that
> promised I would manage some BTC on your behalf. That agreement without
> any doubt takes away any legal right I had to your BTC, enough though I
> may have have the technical ability to spend them. This is the very
> reason why the law has the notion of a custodial relationship in the
> first place.

I never signed any kind of agreement with Andreas Schildbach. I keep my 
bitcoins in his wallet with the full knowledge that an auto-update could clean 
me out. (I only hold "walking around" amounts of money in my mobile wallet for 
exactly this reason.) I would love it if Andreas offered me an agreement not to 
spend my bitcoins without my consent, but I doubt he'd legally be allowed to 
offer such an agreement, as that would indeed set up a custodial relationship, 
which would put him into all sorts of regulatory headache.

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