18 February 2014
Tidbit Inventors Attacked by New Jersey
Subject: re: bitcoin
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:45:08 -0500
Yesterday's letter to alumni from MIT President Reif
Dear MIT Alumni,
This evening, I sent the following message to the campus MIT community. Because
I know that you care very much about the welfare of our students, I thought
you might be interested to see it, too.
L. Rafael Reif
To the members of the MIT community:
I am writing to address a problem that a group of MIT students currently
face but that concerns all of us, because it highlights issues central to
sustaining the creative culture of MIT.
The students in question are the creators of Tidbit, a proof-of-concept code
for a novel Bitcoin-harvesting strategy. After Tidbit won the "most innovative"
award in a recent hackathon, the State Attorney General of New Jersey demanded
that the students turn over a sweeping set of documents, code and information--a
surprising and difficult turn of events for the Tidbit team.
I am grateful to all those who have written to me to express their concern
about this situation, and I want to make it clear that the students who created
Tidbit have the full and enthusiastic support of MIT. Chancellor Cindy Barnhart
and Provost Marty Schmidt met with the students yesterday. They and General
Counsel Greg Morgan also spoke with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
which is providing to the students, pro bono, the independent legal
representation that they need. We will remain in close coordination with
the students and the EFF to offer assistance in the legal proceedings.
Beyond this specific case, I believe we should provide our student inventors
and entrepreneurs with a resource for independent legal advice, singularly
devoted to their interests and rights. I have asked the Provost, Chancellor
and General Counsel to develop and submit to me a specific proposal for creating
such a resource, which will add an essential new strength to MIT's innovation
When the MIT community works together, we spot problems, analyze them and
solve them. Let's solve this one together.
L. Rafael Reif