John McAfee Admits Ghost ‘Copy-Pasted’ From PIVX, Threatens Lawsuits


Eccentric cryptocurrency advocate John McAfee admitted his anonymity-oriented project Ghost “copy-pasted” parts of its whitepaper from the documentation for open-source privacy coin PIVX in a series of tweets today. He nonetheless appears to intend to sue PIVX for defamation. 

Ghost vs. PIVX — brief recap

Earlier this week, PIVX developers claimed that the Ghost whitepaper was plagiarized from an outdated 2018 PIVX whitepaper. According to them, “at least 20 of the 26 total pages” of the Ghost whitepaper “contain material directly plagiarized from the 2018 PIVX whitepaper”. 

At the time, a representative for Ghost explained to Cointelegraph that their starting code base “is a forked version of PIVX”, although Ghost has allegedly “done a lot of improvements” to the code. 

PIVX, in turn, argued that while their product can be used “as long as copyright credits are maintained in the code,” their whitepaper is not open-source and “was fully copyrighted in 2018.”

Defamation allegations

John McAfee now wants to take PIVX to court for defamation, according to his recent tweets. “PIVX is attempting to claim that their source code is Public Domain, but that the description of how it all works (The White Paper) is not,” he wrote, adding:

“Claiming a procuct [sic] is open source while witholding [sic] the documention [sic] is fraud. Pure and simple. I will soon demonstrate that in the courts.”

When asked by a Twitter commentator whether McAfee’s team copy-pasted PIVX’s whitepaper, McAfee replied:

“Of course we f—ing did!!! It explains what the source code does, which they gave away FFS!! How do you re-f—ing-write the directions from your house to the Pizza shop. It’s a f—ing explanation of something. Wake the f— up!”

PIVX says suing them is like “suing Bitcoin”

Cointelegraph has reached out to PIVX regarding the potential lawsuit, and was told by the project’s representative that “PIVX is not a legal entity, and no single person has any particular ownership of PIVX nor its development.” 

“It’s like John saying he’ll sue Bitcoin,” the spokesperson added. Additionally, the representative suggested that McAfee’s legal status might not allow him to take matters to court. The British-American entrepreneur has been living “in exile” since 2019 due to reported tax-related charges from U.S. authorities.

Ghost is scheduled to launch sooner than PIVX, announces similar features 

PIVX is an open-source protocol which originally forked from DASH. It plans to implement zk-SNARKs based privacy protocol created by Zcash (ZEC), another privacy coin, closer to its launch in Q4 2020. Ghost, on the other hand, is scheduled to take off next month — and its whitepaper also mentions zk-SNARKs, potentially as a result of borrowing from PIVX.

“We have a suspicion that the GHOST team may not have been aware that PIVX have not yet implemented it [zk-SNARKs] when they published their white paper”, a PIVX spokesperson suggested in a conversation with Cointelegraph.

“We give full props to any code that we use,” the open-source project’s representative added. “Be it Bitcoin, DASH, Zcash etc. But GHOST fully hid all of that and blatantly copied our work and announced it as if they developed it all.”

Cointelegraph contacted Ghost for additional details and will update this story, should we receive a response.