(Post in English since there’s very little reports on this in English).
Some days ago news was out that “Kopimistsamfundet” (“The Church of Kopimism”) was officially accepted as a religion in Sweden. People see this as a joke and giggle a bit about it. I’ve been following the church up closely and wanted to post my views on why this is an important move.
The idea behind this church comes from a quite unexpected source, you will probably not be able to guess whom. It’s funny.
In an interview in 2007 or 2008 (I believe, not sure about the date) the swedish lawyer for the MPAA, Monique Wasted, got a question about her views on the people advocating file sharing. Her answer was that “It’s just a few people, very loud. They’re a cult. They call themselves Kopimists.”
She called file sharers “a cult”. But she should know, because besides working for Hollywood she’s also been working as a swedish legal counsil for the church of Scientology. She has for instance helped them sue the swedish government over copyright infringement for putting their bible up as publicly viewable evidence in a court case.
It made me think that it might be benefits to look at what we do as a religious movement. One of the fun things working with The Pirate Bay has always been that we’ve started lots of fun crazy projects. Some work, some (most) fail. I started researching what kind of angle it would give us if we registered a religion.
When the Swedish state church was split from the government, a law about religions was passed to make it possible for anyone to get their religion accepted as long as they had some sort of organisation. The law states that the content of the religion itself is never tried, only that the organisation is there. The law is hence very wide and in order to not be abused for economical reasons, that part of the religion is a separate step, So you won’t get any money from the government (or tax benefits) without a lot of more bureaucracy. But that’s not interesting in this case.
The more interesting thing is that religions in general (I will not go into details here, it’s fun to find out for people in the end) are a bit more protected than political movements. In Sweden the law about freedom of religion is absolute – which means that no other law is higher. That means that laws that is designed to, for instance spy on you, might not be allowed if you commit yourself to your religious act.
In some religions (I don’t know about Kopimistsamfundet yet, maybe they can answer) there’s a Seal of Confession – which means that when you talk to a priest in the congregation, the priest have to keep what you say confidential. This is respected in some countries as law, where the courts can not make the priest testify against the individual. And some religions – at least the Mormons as far as I know – consider all members of the church to be a priest. This is probably the thing that I love the most with kopimism as a religion – we can have yet another form of P2P communication – Priest2priest. With no legal right for anyone to listen in to the conversation perhaps. This must be researched.
Since I’ve had a lot of things to do, projects to start, my church was never started. My working name for it was Church of Copying Kopimists (or short: C.O.C.K. just for the lulz). I told some friends about my idea and in the end they really liked it. This is one of the essential things with how the internet and kopimism works – if you don’t do it, someone else will. I didn’t have to do the work, since the idea that spread was good enough. After a year of iterations it actually worked.
And now, all this remixing and sharing is officially considered a religious move.