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SEC

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One of the issues that we, and much of the rest of the crypto community, have been following for many years is the battle between the crypto industry and the SEC on the issue of whether crypto assets are securities. In November 2022, a federal district judge in New Hampshire held that the LBRY token was a security. On July 13, 2023, a federal district judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that Ripple Labs’…

SEC v. Crowd Machine, Inc. was a lawsuit that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission brought against Crowd Machine Inc. (“CMI”), and others, for CMI’s making materially false and misleading statements in connection with an initial coin offering of Crowd Machine Compute Tokens (CMCTs). Rather than using the ICO proceeds for the stated purpose, Defendants diverted more than $5.8 million in ICO proceeds to gold mining entities in South Africa. The SEC also alleged…

We have previously written about the SEC’s case against LBRY, which offered a video sharing application. Its native token, LBC, was meant to be used by content creators and audience members on LBRY’s “content marketplace,” which billed itself as an alternative to YouTube. LBRY had a real business and real customers. But the SEC sued LBRY, claiming that it had conducted an unregistered offering of digital asset securities. LBRY tried to fight back aggressively, noting that…

We have been writing for years about what had become an almost quixotic quest for U.S. SEC approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF (see one such post here). The D.C. Circuit’s decision in the Grayscale case (see post here) was a clear repudiation of the SEC’s position and infused the industry with hope that such approval might finally be forthcoming. Though it has not happened yet, this post provides an update on this topic. There…

On September 7th, 2023, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) announced settlement orders against three operators of decentralized finance (“DeFi”) protocols: Opyn, Inc. (“Opyn”), Deridex, Inc. (“Deridex”), and ZeroEx, Inc. (“ZeroEx”). The announcement is a clear message that the CFTC will be asserting jurisdiction in the DeFi space, and may be as much a signal to the SEC as it is a message to the DeFi industry that the CFTC is claiming crypto regulatory…

We recently reported on the first NFT enforcement action brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. On September 13, 2023, the Commission brought its second, against Stoner Cats 2 LLC (SC2), the entity responsible for the cartoon series Stoner Cats. The animated Web3 series featured the voices of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Chris Rock, Jane Fonda, Seth MacFarlane and others. The series is about the adventures of cats who learned to talk after inhaling…

On August 29, 2023, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals delivered the most recent blow to the SEC’s crypto crackdown with its ruling in Grayscale Investments, LLC v. SEC. The decision was a big win for Grayscale and a clear repudiation of the SEC’s handling of Grayscale’s (and, implicitly, others’) spot Bitcoin ETF application under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). By way of background, in 2013, Gemini founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss first sought to…

We previously reported on the Friel v Dapper Labs decision, which was a first-of-its-kind decision in the U.S. courts, holding that an NFT (non-fungible token) can be a security under U.S. securities law. On August 28, 2023, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought its first NFT enforcement action, against Impact Theory, LLC, a media and entertainment company headquartered in Los Angeles. It read very much like the SEC’s actions concerning cryptocurrency. As in those…

We have previously reported on U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission cases against influencers for violating the anti-touting statute. On August 22, 2023, the SEC announced settled charges against Washington, D.C.-based investment adviser Fundrise Advisors, LLC arising from the firm’s solicitation arrangements with online content creators. The following information is taken from the Order. Fundrise has been registered with the SEC as an investment adviser since September 25, 2014 and, as of March 31, 2023, reported…

Almost five years ago, we reported on the SEC’s first-ever case against celebrities for touting ICOs. In 2022, Kim Kardashian paid $1.26 million in connection with her touting on social media a crypto asset security (she received about $250,000 for a post on Instagram). On August 4, 2023, in the SEC’s most recent touting case, singer Austin Mahone consented to a judgment under which he paid about $46,000 for illegal touting. The simple concept behind…