Tuesday, 10 January 2012

File sharing is now an official religion in Sweden


For many people, file sharing is a way of life. At any given time, they will be seeding handfuls of torrents, downloading several more, and searching The Pirate Bay for something new. The practice provides a cathartic experience that you could even say gives meaning to their lives. So why not take the next step and turn it into a religion? That’s exactly what one man tried to do. The crazy part? He succeeded.

Yes, file sharing has been officially recognized as a religion by the Swedish government. The Church of Kopimism is the fruit of philosophy student Isak Gerson’s efforts. After two unsuccessful attempts to convince authorities to recognize the religion (its methods of praying or meditiaton were deemed too informal), Kopimism was finally granted religious status.

What does Kopimism hold as beliefs? You don’t think that it could have been officially recognized without its own set of creeds, do you? Among others, it holds the following axioms (paraphrased from an English translation):

copying of information is ethically right

spreading information is ethically right

copying or remixing information from another person is an act of respect and an expression of faith

Kopimism even has priests. A file sharing priest is called an Opar. An Opar’s duty is threefold: to live according to Kopimistic values, to help others live according to Kopimistic values, and to actively shape his environment to be more Kopimistic.

Most religions have a formal set of symbols, and Kopimism is no exception. It appropriately uses Control-C and Control-V (keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols. The church’s website does denote that any symbol can be reproduced as a Kopimist symbol, so perhaps Mac users will prefer to hold Command-C and Command-V as sacred symbols.

It’s easy to get a chuckle out of file sharing being recognized as a religion, but why not? If someone finds joy, purpose, and a sense of oneness with the universe by visiting The Pirate Bay, then how is that less important or less “right” than someone who has the same experience in a religion that society has deemed acceptable? Of course they’re breaking the law and taking copyrighted content for free, but they’d be doing that anyway. If you’re going to be doing something regardless, I say it’s better to celebrate it than to feel ashamed about it.

One thing that Kopimists won’t likely get, however, is immunity from prosecution based on religious grounds. Rastafarians, whose religion is much older and larger than Kopimism, are routinely rejected by courts when they attempt to defend their marijuana use on religious grounds. While file sharing isn’t prosecuted as often as cannabis use is, the results of such a legal defense — in Sweden or elsewhere — aren’t likely to be different.

Those looking to join the Church of Kopimism can sign up at the church’s new member’s page.

Church of Kopimism, via TorrentFreak


ToB said...

Wow. I'd like to mention your post, and link back to you on my blog, if that's ok. Very interesting.

ToB said...

My blog is: Histories of Things to Come. Cheers.