Kanye West Tries to Shut Down Coinye, Fledgling Cryptocurrency

Update: Kanye West is reportedly trying to block the launch of a planned cryptocurrency that uses his name, or something very close to it, and likeness. According to The Wall Street Journal, West's lawyers filed cease-and-desist papers, dated Jan. 6, against the anonymous coders behind Coinye West, complaining (reasonably enough) that "consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Mr. West is the source of your services." Indeed, several early reports seemed to give just that impression, even though the developers admitted they were keeping their identities secret in case West looked less-than-favorably on their enterprise. Rather than slink away in the face of their inspiration's legal threats, the Coinye team has moved their release date up, to Tuesday evening, and shifted their web presence to a domain based in India. The image of West on their Coinye illustration has also become significantly less flattering.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Kanye West has received many recognitions: he's won 21 Grammys, appeared on the TIME 100 list, and been called a "jackass" by a sitting president of the United States. Now comes a cutting-edge accolade: West has apparently inspired a new peer-to-peer Internet currency. According to its website, Bitcoin competitor Coinye West will launch on January 11, calling itself "a cryptocurrency for the masses."

At present, Coinye has no connection to West, although its makers told Vice that they hope to secure his endorsement in the coming days. (They also insisted on anonymity, expressing a desire to avoid West's wrath if he turns out not to like their idea.)

"We chose to represent Kanye, because he is and always has been a trendsetter," the developers explained. "And he's always keeping things unique."

West's line of work also seems to have suggested the one specific application of Coinye that its makers were willing to disclose: "I can picture a future where Coinye is used to buy concert tickets, with cryptographically verified virtual tickets, and other ideas I can't give away just yet."

With Bitcoin owning the first-mover advantage, alternative digital currencies have had to define themselves against the household name. Litecoin, for instance, claims to be "capable of handling higher transaction volume than" Bitcoin, while Dogecoin has branded itself with 2013's most endearing meme. For its part, Coinye promises "No premine, no screwed up fake 'fair' launches, shyster devs, muted channels, and f--ked up wallets."

In short: a simplified mining process that will make cryptocurrency easier to use. (Mining is how users generate units of virtual money, by running computer programs that solve complicated math problems.) The Bitcoin mining process is arcane and costly, with the potential for underhanded dealings: video game company E-Sports Entertainment recently agreed to pay $1 million to the State of New Jersey to settle charges that it hijacked the PCS of 14,000 customers in order to mine bitcoins.

So, though it's hard to see the relevance of Kanye West, increased ease and transparency of mining could be a viable model for a new cryptocurrency. Considering the potential effects of decentralized money, no one coin should have all that power.

—Written by Eamon Murphy for MainStreet

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