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Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweden recognizes file-sharing as official religion

A collective of data pirates in Sweden have taken the free flow of information on the web to religious new heights. Members of the group — known officially as the Missionary Church of Kopimism — call themselves "Kopimists," a term derived from the swedish word "kopiera" meaning "to copy". The clan of enthusiastic file-sharers have been pressing the government to give their web-centric belief system the vaulted status enjoyed by more traditional religions, and now they've got it.

According to the collective's official site: "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 multiples through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organization and its members." Sweden's surely controversial gesture of respect for digital media pirating comes at a time when the legislative climate set by SOPA has tensions around web freedom higher than ever in the U.S.

Kopimism's founder, philosophy student Isak Gerson, applied to Sweden's government three times since 2010, facing rejection the first two times around due to his offbeat religion's lack of formal rituals, an apparent prerequisite for state recognition. His third attempt must have made a compelling argument, since now Kopimism satisfies the country's definition of a religion as a "belief system with rituals." We can only assume those rituals are downloading, copying, and file-sharing — actions that appear to now enjoy the legal protections provisioned for more traditional, deity-based religions in Sweden.


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