Sweden recognises new file-sharing religion Kopimism

A “church” whose central tenet is the right to file-share has been formally recognised by the Swedish government.

The BBC reports

The Church of Kopimism claims that “kopyacting” – sharing information through copying – is akin to a religious service.

The “spiritual leader” of the church said recognition was a “large step”.

But others were less enthusiastic and said the church would do little to halt the global crackdown on piracy.

The Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet finally registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation shortly before Christmas, the group said.

“We had to apply three times,” said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organisation.

The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.

It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.

“For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members,” he said in a statement.

“Being recognised by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of Kopimi. Hopefully this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution,” he added.

The church’s website has been unavailable since it broke the news of its religious status. A message urged those interested in joining to “come back in a couple of days when the storm has settled”.

Despite the new-found interest in the organisation, experts said religious status for file-sharing would have little effect on the global crackdown on piracy.

“It is quite divorced from reality and is reflective of Swedish social norms rather than the Swedish legislative system,” said music analyst Mark Mulligan.

“It doesn’t mean that illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if ‘Jedi‘ was recognised as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabres.

The Local, which provides Swedish news in English, says

The number of members of the Church of Kopimism is about 3,000, and Gerson said he has seen a significant increase in the last couple of days since the decision became public. […]

The Church derived its name from the online movement “Kopimi” (read as “copyme”), in which users are invited to add a “Kopimi” logo to their website if they are willing to have their information copied by others.

Gerson, firm in his beliefs, encourages all to keep on sharing.

“There’s still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change,” he told website torrentfreak.com.

It is not up to authorities to have an opinion on the beliefs of a religious community in Sweden, Bertil Kallner at the Financial and Administrative Services Agency told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

“A religious community could basically be anything,” he said.

“What’s important is that it is a community for religious activities.”

The ability to register a faith in Sweden became possible as the Swedish church and state were separated in 2000.

The recognition of a religious faith is today not so different from registering and protecting a company name.

But even after joining into the new church, new acolytes should take heed as their act of worship of choice, namely file-sharing, will remain illegal in Sweden.

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