Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-crypto Crusade Splits the Left

Democratic lawmakers are entering a crypto collision course. Politico reports: Questions around how to police digital currency and whether to support its adoption are driving a rift not just between the party’s liberal and centrist wings but also among progressives who often see eye-to-eye on financial regulation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — who has long led the left’s charge to crack down on banks and Wall Street — has emerged as one of the party’s most vocal cryptocurrency critics, warning that it exposes consumers to danger, is ripe for financial crimes and is an environmental threat because of its electricity usage. But a new generation of progressives — and a number of other senior Democrats — are embracing the startup industry. They’re arguing against regulations that could stifle what proponents say is a new avenue for financial inclusion and a breakthrough alternative to traditional banks. “The project of radically decentralizing the internet and finance strikes me as a profoundly progressive cause,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “You should never define any technology by its worst uses. … There’s more to crypto than ransomware, just like there’s more to money than money laundering.”

The simmering conflict is set to intensify in the coming months. President Joe Biden last week asked federal agencies to start solidifying the federal government’s approach to crypto, framing the step as supportive of innovation rather than an industry crackdown. The price of Bitcoin surged on the news. Separately, Democratic lawmakers have started to draft a host of crypto regulation bills that are also exposing a wide range of views on the government’s role in the $1.7 trillion market for digital assets. The lack of consensus among Democrats means it’s unlikely Congress will act anytime soon to pass major legislation laying out the direction of regulation of the new market. Some Democrats and lobbyists had expected initial votes early this year, but that timeline has slipped.

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Nike Wants To ‘Destroy’ Unauthorized NFTs — How Will That Work?

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Decrypt: When a company like Nike finds someone using its brand without permission, it can ask the courts to order the unauthorized goods to be destroyed. Nike has done this in the past, but its latest trademark lawsuit comes with a twist — the products it wants to “destroy” are NFTs, which are inscribed permanently on the Ethereum blockchain. The case in question involves Detroit-based StockX, a site that lets people buy and sell used brands, including Nike sneakers. […] In a complaint filed last month in New York federal court, Nike accused StockX of ripping off its brand in order to cash in on a “gold rush market” for NFTs. As a remedy for StockX’s alleged infringement of its trademarks, Nike wants the company to turn over its profits and stop the NFT sneaker sales. It also wants a judge to “order that StockX be required to deliver to Nike for destruction any and all Vault NFTs.”

According to Alexandra Roberts, a trademark law professor at the University of New Hampshire, it’s fairly common for companies to ask to destroy goods that infringe their IP — there’s even a law that entitles them to do that. But whether a court will grant the order is likely to be informed by what the brand owner is looking to destroy. Where do NFTs fit into this? It’s an open question since the courts have never had to address it before. And even if the New York court agrees to order the destruction of the StockX NFTs, there’s the question of how exactly Nike would go about doing that.

Records on the blockchain show that StockX has indeed inscribed the NFTs on Ethereum, which means they are indestructible except in the extremely unlikely event that developers agree to fork the blockchain to get rid of them. According to some, the most practical thing for Nike to do would be to send the NFTs to a so-called burner wallet. This wouldn’t destroy them but still achieve the same purpose: “This means that the best outcome for a brand that is seeking to have NFTs destroyed may be to have them sent to a burn address, which still does not actually destroy them but renders them incapable of being transferred anymore,” writes the Fashion Law Blog.

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The Original Winamp Skin Is Selling As An NFT

Winamp will sell a non-fungible token (NFT) linked to its media player’s original 1997 graphical skin, becoming the latest company to blend nostalgia and crypto. The Verge reports: Winamp will put the NFT up for auction through OpenSea between May 16th and May 22nd, followed by a separate sale of 1997 total NFTs based on 20 artworks derived from the original skin. The proceeds will go to the Winamp Foundation, which promises to donate them to charity projects, starting with the Belgian nonprofit Music Fund.

The NFT sale appears to be a combination of a publicity move and a fundraising effort. Winamp is sourcing the derivative art NFTs by asking artists to submit Winamp-based works between now and April 15th, then giving selected artists 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale of their image as an NFT. Nineteen of the pieces will sell in editions of 100 copies, and the remaining one will have 97; they’ll all sell for 0.08 Ethereum — around $210 at current exchange rates. The artists will get 10 percent of any royalties on later sales, where the seller will set their own price.

Winamp’s head of business development Thierry Ascarez tells The Verge that buyers will get a blockchain token linked to an image of either the original skin seen above or one of its derivatives, which is a common setup for NFTs. Buyers will have the right to “copy, reproduce, and display” the image, but they won’t own the copyright. Likewise, selected artists will agree to transfer all intellectual property for their work to Winamp, according to a page of terms and conditions (PDF).

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No, Linus Torvalds is not Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

ZDNet reporter Steven Vaughan-Nichols has solved the mystery of whether Linus Torvalds is Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto: no.

But what’s interesting is why the reporter had to ask in the first place:
In a GitHub Linux kernel repository, it appeared Torvalds had changed a single line in the Linux Kernel. The change: ‘Name = I am Satoshi….’ Torvalds himself has been suspected of being Nakamoto several times over the years. But no one who knows him well, and I consider myself one of those, have ever thought he was the Bitcoin mastermind. It’s just so, so not Linus.

So, while many people were discussing the “evidence,” I decided just to ask Linus. Here’s what he had to say.
“I’m afraid that is just a jokester taking advantage of how GitHub works — it shares git objects between different repositories, so you can use the SHA1 ‘name’ of an object to specify something you did in your own tree, and then use my repository as the web name, and make it look like your object is in my tree….” Torvalds went on, “So the “torvalds/linux” part of that URL is basically just empty noise, designed to fool people into thinking it’s in my tree. You could replace it with [another] GitHub repository name — the actual relevant part is just the SHA1 hash part….”

“So no,” Torvalds concluded, “I’m sadly not the owner of a huge stash of original bitcoins.”

And, there you have it, folks. Nakamoto’s real identity remains a secret.

Late last year Vaughan-Nichols also reported on what happened when Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin suggested Torvalds sell an NFT of the 1991 email that first announced Linux to the world .
“An amused and appalled Torvalds replied, “I’m staying out of the whole craziness with crypto and NFTs. Those people are cuckoo!”

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