Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Mastering Development

Confirm Licenses for Bitcoin Core for new book by Oxford University Press

I hope that I can get you or someone else familiar with the licensing of Bitcoin Core to assist me. You can reach me at

I am writing a chapter in a book entitled on Free and Open Source Licensing by the Oxford University Press. I am writing a chapter on blockchain and open source. The audience is lawyers who are familiar with open source but not blockchain. I am seeking a review of two pages on Bitcoin (including Bitcoin Core) on open source to ensure that it is as accurate as possible. You can see the two pages below. I am using a scan by BlackDuck of the relevant repository so I am comfortable with the list of licenses but I am interested in any additional information you can provide on the background of the clients, the selection of the license and how the contributions are managed to ensure that they have licenses compatible with the “Project License” of MIT. Please feel free to propose changes to the draft. OUP is hoping to get the draft next week and I hope to get your comments early next week.


Bitcoin is the first blockchain and is based on the Bitcoin Whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto (who is still unknown) which was published in 2008. The original Bitcoin client was released on January 9, 2009. This history of Bitcoin and its clients is complex and opaque. lists 54 Bitcoin clients. The chapter will review two of the more commonly used clients.

Bitcoin Core was initially named Bitcoin-Qt. It was the third Bitcoin client and developed by Wladimir van der Laan based on the original reference code by Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin-Qt version 0.5.0 was released on 1 November 2011. Bitcoin-Qt introduced a front end that uses the Qt user interface toolkit.
Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision) is a fork of Bitcoin Cash client. Bitcoin Cash was released on August 1, 2017 as part of the “bitcoin scalability debate.” The hard fork of Bitcoin Cash resulted in two competing coins – Bitcoin ABC (Adjustable Blocksize Cap) and Bitcoin SV. The fork was due to a disagreement over how to best solve the problem of “scalability” in the Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin SV was led by Craig Wright who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the original developer of Bitcoin.


Bitcoin Core Client

The scan of the Bitcoin Core client is for Version and was performed on September 4, 2020. The project license is MIT. The project includes 83% third party open source software. The project has 30,390 files of which 25.194 files include third party open-source software. These third party open source files have 76 different third party open source components under 29 different open source licenses. BlackDuck noted that 16% of the components are licensed under licenses which could potentially cause conflicts. Under the BlackDuck analysis, three files (within one component) have a “broader reach” license conflict and no files have a “narrower reach” license conflict. The Bitcoin Core client has 1009 files within eleven components have potential component conflicts. The licenses for the project include many traditional open source licenses including many copyleft licenses such as General Public License version 2 (or later) (“GPLv2+”), General Public License version 3 (or later) (“GPLv3+”), Affero General Public License version 3, Lesser General Public License version 2.1 (or later) and Lesser General Public License version 3 (or later) as well as many permissive licenses. However, it includes some unusual licenses such as License for AMD64 Patch by Mikhail Teterin which provides a license under BSD but prohibits “Use by owners of Che Guevarra paraphernalia” where possible.

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