Kopism: how file sharing became a religion in Sweden

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Publisher: FilePlaza

Date added: 05 Jan 2012

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A group of Swedish file sharing enthusiasts has achieved the official recognition for a religion based on the belief of free and open information for all.

What do Jedis, Ed Wood, soccer legend Diego Maradona, heavy metal, euthanasia, apathy and a spaghetti monster have in common? That’s a really weird question, isn’t it? The answer is as strange as the question, since all of the above have devoted cults following them, which are organized in religions. In other words, there are people out there that actually believe those subjects are their saviors and/or provide some guidelines for life.

Well, no one can argue that they are religions, alright (as long as you understand religion as a “system of attitudes, beliefs and practices which manifest faithful devotion to an acknowledged reality or deity”). Besides, no one can tell the rest what they should believe (although all religious people do it).

That’s why the news of a new Swedish religion devoted to file sharing, although somewhat surprising, is uncontestable, in spite of what copyright holders and property defender might say.

Kopism or the religious act of sharing information through copying

According to Isak Gerson, spiritual leader, and to Gustav Nipe, board chairman for the new religion, “the Swedish governmental agency Kammarkollegiet registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation.” The recognition finally came after its leaders tried for more than a year to become registered as a religious entity.

The Church of Kopism was founded by Gerson, a 19-year-old philosophy student, who was seeking for protection against persecution for a practice that he deems as sacred. In that sense, Gerson states that “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.”

In the light of such definition, “kopyacting” (sharing information through copying) can be understood as a religious service. In fact, since its first steps back in 2010, the Church of Kopism has been gathering its members in “kopyacts”, the equivalent to Christian masses. In such encounters,”the kopimists share information with each other through copying and remix.” Basically, they share videos, audios, games and all sorts of other information.

Although the Church doesn’t promote illegal file sharing directly, it vigorously opposes all forms of copyright. That stance comes from a firm determination that seeks open knowledge distribution for all.

Sweden, the war on piracy and future implications

For those of you believing that such recognition would imply the first step to a total legalization of file sharing, well, don’t get your hopes too high. The religious recognition, although an important achievement for the Church, won’t prevent its members from potential prosecutions over illegal file sharing.

In that regard, Gerson says that “being recognized 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.”

And if you believe all of this is crazy nonsense, think again. The Swedish government is pretty serious when it comes to its population beliefs. In fact, the state has already recognized other religious communities involving elves, gnomes and Nordish pagans.

All of this, however, won’t surely have an impact on recent war on piracy’s advances. In fact, SOPA will keep its schedule for the Senate discussion, and if it ever passes, piracy efforts will be shot down on sight, religious-related or not.

So, basically, this news comes as a peculiar story about a group of people that think information should be a universal value, not only in theory but in practice as well. And though the intentions are good, it takes more than that to change the world.

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