In March of 2014, Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman had thought she had exposed the real Satoshi Nakamoto by writing about a man named Dorian Nakamoto. The story made headlines all over many other news publications, and soon thereafter Dorian denied being the creator of Bitcoin. Even a person who was Satoshi Nakamoto or had access to one of his old emails wrote, “I am not Dorian.” Since this time Dorian has been out of the public spotlight after many people had realized it most likely wasn’t him. Of course, that didn’t stop the memes of Dorian that had been shared widely across the web.The Sticker that caused the debate.
Fast forward to the spring of 2016 and the chatter about Dorian is nearly nonexistent other than a few shared memes of his face. However, a recent debate has come up about the Toronto-based Coinkite using the likeness of his image in stickers they have created and sell online. Coinkite has also been giving the Dorian-like stickers away with their new product Opendime a kind of throw-away USB stick for Bitcoin. The product Opendime can be passed around like cash and when ordered a customer also receives a Dorian-like sticker with the Coinkite logo on the side. Despite Coinkite using the sticker to be a funny joke some people believe they shouldn’t use Dorian’s likeness in a product, whether they are selling or giving them away. Just recently a post on the subreddit r/bitcoin written by the cryptocurrency artist Cryptograffiti. The artist says Dorian never gave Coinkite permission to use his image. Cryptograffiti states:
Dorian Nakamoto March 6, 2014, in Los Angeles, Associated Press
“Three weeks ago, this post revealed Coinkite is using stickers of Dorian to help sell their products. I spoke with Dorian and he confirmed that he is in no way affiliated with this company. In his words, he does not want to be associated with Coinkite because they did not ask for his participation and “in the event they wrong their customers.” I reached out to Coinkite on Reddit and Twitter. Before blocking me, they stated the stickers were two years old and therefore “this is nothing new.” They also sell the stickers. Considering what Dorian has been through, it goes without saying that this publicity is unwelcome. Coinkite, if you agree to cease these activities, I will delete this post.”
Throughout the post which was upvoted to the top of the r/bitcoin front page, many people had contention on which side they agreed with. The debate goes into the lines of intellectual property or the use of one’s likeness in a product. Many people agreed with the post as one redditor writes, “Yup. Dorian’s face will never leave the internet, but that doesn’t make it public domain.” Another commenter gives an opinion saying, “thanks for letting us know. I know I won’t be doing business with Coinkite.” However, many people disagreed with the stance and believed the sticker and pictures are harmless as some called it just a “cartoonish vector.” The sticker is a cartoonish vector but was definitely derived from this photograph of Dorian. A commenter who disagrees with Cryptograffiti’s post writes:
“Are you asking the bitcoin community to help censor a meme? Let Dorian sue them if he feels strongly about it.”
Still people who agreed with the fact that you cannot censor an internet meme yet they did disagree with Coinkite’s use of Dorian’s image for commercial purposes or to market a product. At the time of this writing, the sticker is still for sale and remains on the StickerMule website. On the other hand, there are quite a bit of company’s using Dorian’s image with tee-shirt designs, and other products. Live Bitcoin News reached out to CoinKite for comment but received no reply at the time of this writing.
A comment from Coinkite via the reddit thread states:
“We made this graphic of Dorian back when the Newsweek article first came out and made bunch of stickers back then. We had not really given it much thought since, and just thought it was a generic/meme/image these days. However, you are right that we shouldn’t be using his image to promote our products, and creating any confusion about an endorsement or similar. We have removed his image from the Sticker Mule site, and all web sites we control. We will stop including the stickers in new Opendime shipments.We will reach out to Dorian to set this right. Thanks to the community for bringing this to our attention”
The sticker from StickerMule has since been deleted.
Source: Reddit Image Sources: Via StickerMule, Pixabay, and the Associated Press