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January 09, 2012

Church of Kopimism Advocating File Sharing as a Religious Practice Recognized in Sweden
By Arvind Arora
TMCnet Contributor

While file sharing activities through the Internet have been giving birth to serious discussions regarding the vital role they plain in promoting online piracy, some people and organizations worldwide have been voicing their opinions in favor of file sharing, suggesting the phenomenon leads to free and uninterrupted exchange of information among people.

The Church of Kopimism, an organization in Sweden has announced that it has recently been recognized by the Swedish government as a religious body. It emphasizes that sharing information by copying it is equivalent to religious service, termed as “kopyacting” by the organization.

A few days before the Christmas 2011, Kammarkollegiet, a government agency of Sweden registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organization, although it was not possible before a number of attempts were made by the body for the recognition.

“We had to apply three times,” commented Gustav Nipe, chairman of the Church of Kopimism. The organization regards CTRL+C, a shortcut key for copy command and CTRL+V, a shortcut key for paste command as sacred symbols. While it doesn’t promote illegal file sharing and piracy in a direct manner, the Church emphasizes that knowledge and information must be available for free distribution to everybody.

Isak Gerson, a 19 year old student of philosophy, had founded the organization with an aim to offer religious protection to file sharing between users; as its recognition as a religious body has been termed a “large step” by the spiritual leader of the Church of Kopimism.

“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 organization and its members,” said Gerson. “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.”

Ever since the organization has been recognized as a Church, its website has been made unavailable to the users, with a message that asks the visitors to “come back in a couple of days when the storm has settled.”

Although the Church of Kopimism has achieved a legal and verified status now, a number of experts have expressed the recognition of file sharing as a religious activity is not going to make any substantial difference to the global crackdown on piracy.

“It is quite divorced from reality and is reflective of Swedish social norms rather than the Swedish legislative system,” commented Mark Mulligan, a music analyst by profession. “It doesn’t mean that illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if ‘Jedi’ was recognized as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabers.”

In December 2011, two bills under discussion at the U.S. Congress attempting to stop online piracy met with strong opposition in the country, and supporters of the bills had to face boycott. The two bills, the Protect Intellectual Property Act or ‘PIPA’ and the Stop Online Piracy Act or ‘SOPA’, had been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives respectively.

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Arvind Arora is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Arvind's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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