Legal ramifications for PtD (Pay the Developer) feature in the SAFE protocol

While debating PtD (Pay the Developer) and PtP (Pay the Producer) which is having the SAFE network pay developers for apps and possible for content creators, I had a chilling thought on the possible legal ramifications of this feature.

PtD and PtP functionality is based solely on Puts and Gets. It pays out safecoin based on a set of put/get rules and does not distinguish nor discriminate on what gets created including illegal content. This is different from storing illegal content on SAFE which is not my issue – I understand there’s no way to know what a farmer has stored because it is encrypted and in pieces, spread among other farmers. But if an app is used to conduct illegal activity, then anyone funding that illegal activity will be liable. Let me explain with an example:

Example: Let’s say only these six apps are currently being run on the SAFE network.
The bad apps:

  • A pedophile’s version of XHamster website/app that makes it easier to view and upload child porn.
  • An ISIS version of Facebook with the purpose of recruiting terrorists directed at the EU and the US.
  • A drug ring creates a personal business app that tracks illegal drug purchases and shipments.

The good apps:

  • New game like Angry Birds but call Angry Buffalos.
  • An app to quickly search cancer research documents.
  • An decentralized Uber app.

I think most of us are in agreement that funding state-sponsored terrorists and child porn operations would be illegal and subject to arrest and prosecution in most, if not all, countries. If the SAFE network funds these activities, then some one is liable. A machine or a network cannot be liable. A person or group of persons must be held liable. Those persons are the participants on the SAFE network, holders of safecoin.

A prosecutor can argue that those who participate on the SAFE network are knowingly paying for such illegal activity because they have all agreed to the SAFE protocol to pay app devs regardless of what it does but based on the Put/Get algorithm. The SAFE protocol with PtD can be argued is a contract between the participants of the network and those performing the illegal activity via the app. Here is the definition of a contract (source:

“The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements: a) an offer; b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds; c) a promise to perform; d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form); e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments); f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises; g) performance.”

Without going through each element for the sake of brevity, I believe many can see there is a strong case that the SAFE protocol can be construed as a contract. Which means all participants are on the network are willingly and knowingly funding apps that support both legal and illegal activity.

@dirvine I know a few legal issues have been addressed such as patenting SAFE to deter patent trolls, licensing agreements, etc. so issues such as this one may have been considered. Can you comment on this?


Are the funders of a telecomms company held responsible for facilitating the communications of paedophiles and Isis? Enough is enough. Just FUD IMO.


So who are the authorities going to sue/charge. Oh lets take the s/w to court.

No they go after the criminals and the legal responsibility lies with the crims who upload/create the content/apps.

Also doesn’t your argument also apply just as much if not more to SAFE because it allows them to store their files anonymously?

We get you HATE PtP & PtD and this post seems to lack the substance of a problem to be solved.

And the same argument applies to farmers for storing the illegal files. And people running Nodes are supporting this illegal material and profiting from it through serving it up to the network, and collectively receiving 10 times the rewards than the APP dev or content creator for doing so


I agree. A protocol that enables communication and sharing can not be held responsible for how it is used, just like a car or a hammer or a snow globe or anything else.

Individuals are responsible for their own behaviour…at least I think that is still the case! :wink:


Funders of telecoms are investors and shareholders. Nothing illegal about that. In your analogy, the telecoms aren’t paying ISIS and pedophiles like PtD does. Sorry, your comparison doesn’t stand.

On a similar note, I hope I can choose for my app to not accept money. If I build some kind of content creation/sharing app (e.g. a social network) I would fear the liability of accepting money without the ability to moderate the content.

Here’s what was said about who will be charged.

A payment is made to fund illegal activities. It’s the payment that causes the problem. Payment must originally come from someone; not software, not a system. That leaves the participants of the network who have agreed to the SAFE protocol. Without participants, the network will cease to function. So authorities can arrest anyone who has transacted with the system including safecoin. That includes folks who have bought and sold safecoin. And I am NOT talking about MAIDSAFE-coin because those coins existed before the SAFE network.

Absolutely not. I already pointed this out on the original post. Here it is again.

The issue begins with payment for illegal activity.

And that’s the way it should be. But when PtD is embedded in the protocol, individuals as participants have no choice as long as they want to use the network. The choice is either to use it or to never to touch it. By using the network, the participant has agreed by the rules of the protocol. This is where contract law kicks in. The issue is not sharing illegal content. The issue is paying for it’s production.

In regards to the network paying for illegal content, all it knows is that there is data stored at a specific location and that data was interacted with in a way that tells it to pay out. It does not know what that data is or who is involved, it just does what the code tells it to.

There have been previous discussions about watermarking content and building a layer on the network that can search for data in this way to combat illegal or pirated data to ensure the original owner is compensated and I suppose this could be used the opposite way to tag illegal content and alert about it, but this would be done on top of the core network protocol…

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It’s pretty clear that PUTs are coins that are “purged” and don’t go toward any specific application, legal or not. The algorithms themselves are the ones that are doing the payment. You’re really stretching this logic conveniently for the purposes of your arguments against creator payments IMO.


“Purged” when safecoin is spent on storage; earned with enough Gets. Yes, the algorithm is executing the payment according to a set of rules but responsibility lies with a human. I can instruct my bank to make a recurring monthly payment and the bank’s system will carry out the instructions but I am still responsible for the payment.

So why not use voting or democracy to let the network choose which apps to fund and which not to fund? Let people rate apps and only apps with a high enough rating get funded?

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That depends on the court. Some questions regarding SAFE Network have yet to be answered. Political and legal risks exist.

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OK you tell me who paid. Whose pocket did the network stick its “hand” into and grab the money???

The uploaders of the filth is the ones the lawyers/authorities will go after and they paid for putting the data onto the network then I guess they paid for it.

Which only leads back to what was said before, the crims are the ones who the authorities will go after.

Anything more than that and you NEED to show the legal precedent. You know what lawyers and judges use to help judge a case.

Sorry you do not present a reasonable case for what you claim. I realise you may think so, but you do need to show legal precedent for something that goes against normal proceedings.

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When a “PUT” is paid for any coin paid is deleted from the system.

Any coin paid for farmers to farm is generated anew. So there is a total physical (SD object) disconnect between any coin paid to the network and any coin paid out of the network.

So lets entertain (& forget legal precedent) whom do you wish to claim that person will be??? Maybe David who thought and created the project and put his own funds into initially. Tell us who you believe they will arrest???

They may, but they won’t go after PtP & PtD before going after the farmers who are paid 10 times more and the criminals who put the material onto the network.

Some legal precedent has to be shown in order to evaluate the threat. And I’d like to hear of any software that has had legal actions brought against it because illegal material can be stored. For instance the makers/sellers of Oracle, whose databases have been used by criminals to commit fraud, store illegal material, etc. Its the criminals they go after who use the software

Has the writers of Tor been taken to court for silk road and similar. Surely they are libel using the arguments of the OP?? And guilty if the OP is right. It was rather the criminals they went after.


There is no way to know or predict how politicians and law enforcement will attack SAFE Network. They might go after the developers.

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Any precedent for this anywhere?

Tor would be a good yardstick to use. What did they do to the current developers when silk road was discovered by the authorities??? I think we can use that as an example of opensource software being used to enable illegal activities with a lot of money changing hands.

Remember that the developers of SAFE are not being paid by the users. They sold tokens only.

Participants of the network as the collective whole is who paid. They have a pre-agreement (a contract) which is the SAFE protocol which says any app can be paid by the system as dictated by the algorithm. The protocol does not distinguish between legal payments and illegal payments.

The legal precedent you are asking about is simple contract law. There are tons of cases by which the definition of contract is applied to determine whether or not an agreement is a contract or not. See my original post on the elements of what is a contract.

Who would they arrest? First, likely the creators, yes but NOT because they wrote the software – there’s plenty of precedent – bitTorrent, Tor, etc. They would be arrested for owning safecoin. Prosecutors will have probable cause to know most would own some. Same for all the folks on this forum. Politicians who support NSA dragnet policies and back doors to encryption would love to see the SAFE team be used as examples; then spin the case to push for bans against all crypto-currencies.

Ironically, the criminals receiving the funds and uploading the app and illegal content would be difficult to catch because of the anonymity features of SAFE.


This just makes me laugh because if we really took the law that seriously then every citizen of the U.S. and Canada would be held accountable for war crimes due to the actions taken by people like George W. Bush and other such politicians who violate human rights and the Geneva conventions. I mean seriously dude it’s hilarious. Be realistic:

First off a PtP program is not payment for “illegal activity” since one has no idea what kind of content the payment is going to. It could be cancer research or the receipie for a new kind of recreational designer drug that’ll mess you up worse than if meth and crack had babies. No one knows. All they know is it encourages content to be uploaded. You aren’t supporting a specific endevour you’re supporting “content creation” of all shapes and sizes. Just like when your taxes go and you have no idea where they go. Yeah some go and help the misfortunate. Some however go and pay for politicians go live in cushy houses or even go to pay for atom bombs to be made. Sweet huh? I’d say PtP is a better feature as at least you know something creative is being made and people are free to use it or not at their own discretion. But let’s continue shall we?

Second how is “the government” to file suit against anyone? They don’t know the account names. All people share is a public ID and odds are people won’t even link their real names with public IDs half the time. But even if they did they can just create a new one. They can have multiple maidsafe accounts. So let’s assume that somehow the feds link a public ID to a real name. Maybe the user is real stupid. How do they prove specific intent? In the case of PtP everyone is funding all content creation. The feds come to you and they say “you’re funding pedephiles and isis and drug dealers” and you say “Yeah and cancer researh and uber and angry birds and everything else that’s created. And I have no idea who these people are or what they create.”

Third it’s not the people that fund the creators it’s the network. As has been discussed. Not a cent comes from the user’s wallets. The safecoin gets devlivered directly from the network in a ratio to farming. I believe it’s a 1:10 ratio last I checked. So you couldn’t sue the individual anyway as they pay nothing. It’s the network that pays. At most the user contributes resources when they farm for coin.

Because then what’s the point of PtP? We’re back to politics again. Might as well just vote with your dollar.

To what end? Assume they do. Assume David Irvine is arrested or assassinated heaven forbid. The code is open source and anyone in the world can utilize it. In face David Irvine and Maidsafe went to great pains to make sure it would be open source and that copies were distributed world wide via development pods. By the time the network goes live and has spread enough for the government to get their act together there will be too many developers for the government to apprehend or kill off. It will be just plain too expensive.