Copying and file sharing recognized as a religion in Sweden
Can the gospel of file sharing really be recognized as a religion? In Sweden it can.
In the midst of a worldwide debate about Internet piracy, Swedish authorities have granted official religious status to the Church of Kopimism, which claims it considers CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) to be sacred symbols, and that information is holy and copying is a sacrament.
The church was founded by philosophy student Isak Gerson, who is also the self-appointed spiritual leader of the movement.
In a statement on the church's website, he says its religious roots stem back to 2010 and that it formalized a community of file sharers that already has been "well spread" for a long time.
"The community of kopimi requires no formal membership," he writes. "You just have to feel a calling to worship what is the holiest of the holiest, information and copy."
(For those who are unaware, kopimi is pronounced "copy me.")
According to the Church of Kopimism website, church services consist of "kopyactings," whereby the "kopimists" share information with each other through copying and remixing.
Bertil Kallner of Sweden's Financial and Administrative Services told the Swedish newspaper Gagens Nyheter that a religious community could "basically be anything."
"What's important is that it is a community for religious activities," he said.
Still, it took the Church of Kopimism three tries over the course of a year before members were able to formalize their way of praying or meditation so that they could be recognized as an official religion.
The blog Torrent Freak reports that membership in the church has grown from 1,000 to 3,000 in the last six months, and the founders expect more people to join now that its religious status is making a splash on the Internet.
"Being recognized by the state of Sweden is a large step for Kopimi," said Gerson. "Hopefully this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution."
-- Deborah Netburn
Photo: Is a file sharing organ in the works? They might model it off this one in the Holy Trinity Church in Kristianstad, on the east coast of Sweden. Credit: Katie Lee Pelon.