With all of the SOPA/PIPA outrage going on over the last couple of months, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that a new religion has just been recognized in Sweden. According to this article on Cnet:
Kopimism is the brainchild of philosophy student Isak Gerson, who founded the church in 2010 to protect his beliefs that copying and sharing information is a good thing. (If Kopimism has a Ten Commandments equivalent, I’m guessing “Thou shall not steal” didn’t make the cut.)
Before you dispute Kopimism as hogwash, there are some things to consider. According to TorrentFreak, the movement has a couple thousand followers, and the number is expected to rise with its official status.
Reaching this point wasn’t easy, however. Since the church’s founding, Gerson made several attempts and failed to get Sweden to recognize the organization as an official religion. It was only after the group formalized a way of praying/meditation that the church got the official blessing.
Kopimism leaders hope the official recognition of their religion could be a positive factor in court cases. I wouldn’t expect it to work like a “Get out of jail free” card, though I’m sure that won’t stop Gerson from preaching the message of Kopimism.
While I’m sure that certain amount of Kopimism has been done strictly “for teh lulz” (peruse their document POwr, Broccoli, and Kopimi or their constitution if you want evidence of that), I’m similarly sure that there are some people that take this quite seriously. If you ask me, it’s much more of a philosophy than a religion, and there may even be a couple slivers of truth tied up inside of it. Would all information be free and distributable in a perfect utopian world? Sure, I could get on board with that. I happen to think that’s particularly true when it comes to most personal expression (provided that the originators are OK with that open distribution) and news coverage. It’s not tenable in real life, even in the most socialist of systems, because sooner or later, a producer of content needs to be able to translate that content into things that they need, like food (broccoli?), but it’s a noble ideal, and I do understand the sentiment. It’s one that I shared long before I had to pay bills and learned that “strictly for the benefit of society” was not really an efficient driver for innovation and quality work, at least for most people. We’ll probably never know exactly how much of that idealism is really behind membership in Kopimism, but I like to think that it’s not a total joke, because if the fight against SOPA and PIPA brought anything to the forefront of my mind, it’s that the diametric opposite of Kopimism’s “everything should be for everyone” isn’t any more tenable or desirable to the population at large, and it’s probably a far sight more dangerous.