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Kopimism – a Religion, Philosophy, or Crime Syndicate?
Information is holy, copy and seed - Such is the decree to which all Kopimists much adhere.
Sprung out of a political counter-reaction towards the governing forces’ regulations and legislations against the online sharing of copyrighted material, an activity also known as seeding or torrenting of files, the movement was recognized as a religion by the Swedish governmental agency Kammarkollegiet just before Christmas last year. The decision sparked discussions worldwideregarding the religion’s legitimacy. Kopimists consider the computer short-commands “Ctrl+C” and “Ctrl+V” sacred and intellectual property to be a sin. Followers can participate in religious services known as kopiactings, where they may share information with each other by copying and remixing it.
The controversy of the official recognition of Kopimism as a religion lies in the different judicial protection that religious congregations have compared to political associations . Anti-piracy groups fear that the Kopimists’ new status will grant them extended rights which will allow them to share copyrighted material unhindered. Should a government inhibit internet piracy through passing legislations, it may in fact be accused of being anti-kopimistic and discriminating, posing a threat to its citizens’ freedom of practicing their religion.
Within Kopimism, actors with pastoral functions known as Operators are expected to support kopimists with counselling services, which includes the sharing and copying of information between the followers and the operator. In many countries clerical figures that care for the counselling of a congregation are prohibited by their confidentiality to disclose anything that has been said or done during counselling, even in a court. In theory, an Operator may witness illegal activity, in this case the illegal sharing of copyrighted material, but is forbidden to confirm any suspicions.
In the Kopimistic constitution, followers are encouraged to encrypt their internet traffic when they are at risk of being caught for seeding or torrenting files. In many countries, this would be considered as encouraging illegal behaviour. All these facts taken together, there are many who suspect that Kopimism is just another attempt from internet users to get away with piracy crimes, as opposed to being an actual spiritual confession.
There are yet others who would rather classify Kopimism as a philosophy than a denomination. As it was founded by a nineteen-year-old philosophy student in 2010 , this presumption is not entirely out of place, and the similarities between Kopimism and the Philosophy of Science is striking. Both perspectives postulate that knowledge is cumulative and increases exponentially. Indeed, the Canadian congregation clearly states on their web site that “Exponential Multiplication creates powerful quantities”. Furthermore, few would contest that open source networks have been proven successful when it comes to accumulating factual information. Wikipedia is a clear example of how gathering the knowledge of many and making it available to anyone and everyone to read or edit can create a self-regulating network which is as reliable as any encyclopaedia. As Sir Isaac Newton put it: “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants”
Al Tab (2012, January 5). Al Tab - The Kopimist Preacher. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y9gMhTyM-E&feature=player_embedded#!
BBC (2012, 5 January). Sweden recognises new file-sharing religion Kopimism. BBC Online. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16424659
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Copyism - the free sharing of ideas and data (2012, 15 March 20:55). Retrieved from: http://www.copyism.org/
Kopimistsamfundet Canada (2012, March 16). Retrieved from: http://kopimistsamfundet.ca/index_main.htm
Lagen.nu, online Swedish law book. Retrieved from: https://lagen.nu/
Richard, J. (2012, January 4). File Sharing Religion: Church of Kopimism Officially Recognized In Sweden. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/file-sharing-religion-church-of...