Suppose I found a bug in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency that allows me to create as many coins as I want. What would be the legal implications in jurisdictions like:


Europe (UK, Germany, France)

Asia (China, India, Russia)

  • 1
    Probably none, as none of these countries are responsible for creation of the currency. Also note that there is a limit to the amount of coins that can be created in bitcoin. BTW, Its not neccessarily unethical.
    – davidgo
    Mar 28 '17 at 4:14
  • 1
    Generally only the country that created a currency enforces laws about fraud with that currency. Bitcoin is not created by any government entity, and is mostly unregulated, which is why most countries do not want to recognize it as a legal currency.
    – animuson
    Mar 28 '17 at 13:57
  • What if we are talking about something created by a company/organisation that did the software, for example Ethereum Foundation, can they ask for damages or something like that ?
    – 7uhi0
    Mar 28 '17 at 17:34
  • Try not to focus on the current aspects of bitcoin. Lets say double spending is possible in a way that i have 2 Bitcoins, and i send 2 Bitcoins to Alice, and 2 Bitcoins to Bob, and both transactions are confirmed, both transactions can create other transactions and also be confirmed. If a bug like that exists, would it be ilegal to exploit ? if not, does the same thing apply to a foundation backing up a different coin as mentioned above?
    – 7uhi0
    Mar 29 '17 at 10:01

Any answer is somewhat speculative, because there are no significant legal precedents.

That said, you are probably not in breach of counterfeiting laws, as they typically protect physical currencies. However, due to the way that laws are written, their scope may be somewhat fuzzy in areas that were not foreseen, so you may find that a law unintentionally does cover your act.

However, even if the act would fall under the law as written, jurisdiction remains an issue. Where would this counterfeiting happen, legally? Again, as this was not foreseen by lawmakers, it's possible that you may fall under foreign jurisdictions, e.g. because you spend the fake BitCoin and the the recipient lives in a country that assumes jurisdiction because their citizen was defrauded.

  • Because we are talking about numbers in a distributed system, physical aspects don't apply. The coins would look exactly like anyone else's coins, only the origin of this coins is questionable. Think of this as everyone mines for gold, and i manage to cheat mother nature and chemically produce gold. (same concept but digitally)
    – 7uhi0
    Mar 29 '17 at 0:50
  • 1
    @7uhi0: I'm entirely aware that physical aspects don't apply. That may be relevant in some legal systems, and irrelevant in others. But in general, laws also protect non-physical currency (i.e. in banks), and you may end up being convicted via one of those laws,
    – MSalters
    Mar 29 '17 at 7:00

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