Digital file sharing via torrent websites – what some call digital piracy – may not be popular with lawmakers and the corporate machine that controls them, but for 3,000 Swedish file sharers, it’s a higher calling, reports Wired. The group has banded together to form the Church of Kopimism, which has been recognized by Swedish authorities as a religion.
File sharing doctrine, est. 2010
Since 2010, members of what is now the Church of Kopimism – derived from the word Kopimi, which is pronounced “copy me” – have petitioned the Swedish government to officially recognize their religious belief in the sharing and copying of digital files. The most recent request that the Swedish government denied was in July 2011.
Kopimists believe communication and sharing are sacred activities, and the right to participate in such acts must be respected as would the tenets of any officially recognized religion. Members of the Church of Kopimism also believe that monitoring and eavesdropping upon others is wrong.
No longer a sect
Just before Christmas, Kopimism was raised from sect to official religious status by the Swedish government. However, as Church of Kopimism founder Isak Gerson and chairman Gustav Nipe were on holiday, they only opened the letter of acceptance yesterday. In order to gain the National Judicial Board for Public Lands & Funds’ approval, the religious organization had to formalize its methods of prayer and meditation, writes Wired.
“Our main ritual is the act of copying and connecting with each other by sharing information,” said Gerson, who is currently a university philosophy student. “Just being recognized by the state of Sweden will help strengthen our identity.”
Striving to end copy and seed persecution
As witnessed in the high-profile court case against The Pirate Bay, file sharing in Sweden remains illegal. Thus, the act of sharing copyright-protected digital files by Kopimists would run afoul of the law, even in officially supported meetings, called ko. However, Gerson is optimistic that his group’s status as a religious organization will be considered in future legislation pertaining to digital file sharing. It will enable members to “develop our religious practice,” said the Church of Kopimism founder.
“This is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution,” said Gerson in the church’s first official press release.
First Schism in the Church of Kopimism
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