A Sweden-born “online piracy religion” is seeking official recognition in the United States. “Kopimists” preach that any act of copying information is sacred and cannot be limited by any human law.
The movement, established in late 2010 by then-19-year-old philosophy student Isak Gerson, holds Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V – the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste commands – as its sacred symbols.
The name Kopimism is world play on “copy me”, inspired by a Biblical quote from 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Copy me, my brothers, just as I copy Christ himself.”
It took the group more than a year and three application attempts before Swedish authorities confirmed its status as a religious community.
Now Kopimism is seeking foothold across the globe. In addition to Sweden, it has branches in 18 counties now from Japan to Russia to Greece. One has recently been registered in Illinois, USA. The American branch of the church is currently in the process of seeking federal recognition, reports US News.
"Data is what we are made of, data is what defines our life, and data is how we express ourselves," says Christopher Carmean, a 25-year-old student at the University of Chicago, who heads the American branch. "Forms of copying, remixing, and sharing enhance the quality of life for all who have access to them. Attempts to hinder sharing are antithetical to our data-driven existence."
Carmean says about 450 people have registered in his church and some 30 of them are actively participating in congregations.
The church hopes for impressive growth. After all, in a sense any person downloading a movie or sharing a file on the internet is practicing Kopimism, even if he or she is not aware of it, the faithful believe.
Kopimists call for change of copyright laws and stand against proprietary software, which they believe is “comparable to slavery”. They say free copying of information is natural for humankind and thus cannot be stopped.