Sweden recognises new file-sharing religion Kopimism

Fingers nearly touching File-sharing is a religious ceremony according to the church leader

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A "church" whose central tenet is the right to file-share has been formally recognised by the Swedish government.

The Church of Kopimism claims that "kopyacting" - sharing information through copying - is akin to a religious service.

The "spiritual leader" of the church said recognition was a "large step".

But others were less enthusiastic and said the church would do little to halt the global crackdown on piracy.

Holy information

Start Quote

It doesn't mean illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if 'Jedi' was recognised as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabres”

End Quote Mark Mulligan Music analyst

The Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet finally registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation shortly before Christmas, the group said.

"We had to apply three times," said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organisation.

The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.

It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.

"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 organisation and its members," he said in a statement.

"Being recognised 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," he added.

The church's website has been unavailable since it broke the news of its religious status. A message urged those interested in joining to "come back in a couple of days when the storm has settled".

Despite the new-found interest in the organisation, experts said religious status for file-sharing would have little effect on the global crackdown on piracy.

"It is quite divorced from reality and is reflective of Swedish social norms rather than the Swedish legislative system," said music analyst Mark Mulligan.

"It doesn't mean that illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if 'Jedi' was recognised as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabres.

"In some ways these guys are looking outdated. File-sharing as a means to pirate content is becoming yesterday's technology," he added.

Piracy crackdown

The establishment of the church comes amid a backdrop of governmental zero-tolerance towards piracy.

The crackdown on piracy has moved focus away from individual pirates and more towards the ecosystem that supports piracy.

In the US, the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) aims to stop online ad networks and payment processors from doing business with foreign websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.

It could also stop search engines from linking to the allegedly infringing sites. Domain name registrars could be forced to take down the websites, and internet service providers forced to block access to the sites accused of infringing.

The government is pushing ahead with the controversial legislation despite continued opposition.

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