Bitcoin is a digital, decentralized, partially anonymous currency, not backed by any government or other legal entity, and not redeemable for gold or other commodity. It relies on peer-to-peer networking and cryptography to maintain its integrity. Compared to most currencies or online payment services, such as PayPal, bitcoins are highly liquid, have low transaction costs, and can be used to make micropayments. This new currency could also hold the key to allowing organizations such as Wikileaks, hated by governments, to receive donations and conduct business anonymously.
Although the Bitcoin economy is flourishing, Bitcoin users are anxious about Bitcoin’s legal status. This paper examines a few relevant legal issues, such as the recent conviction of the Liberty Dollar creator, the Stamp Payments Act, and the federal securities acts.