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Kopimism is an online movement espousing the benefits of free file-sharing that is officially recognized as a religious community by the Swedish Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency. Kopimists consider copying information as a fundamental right and encourage piracy of all types of media including music, movies, TV shows and software. Although it is recognized as a religion, the belief system lacks deities and other supernatural beliefs.
The domain for the website kopime.com was created and registered by the Swedish organization Piratbyrån on January 25th, 2005. The site encourages the use of kopimi, a copyright alternative designed to encourage copying for any purpose, and includes instructions on how to display the kopimi symbol on a website.
kopimi (copyme), symbol showing that you want to be copied. use kopimi in your own fancy. kopimi may be put on homepages or blogs, in books, in software, as sound logos in music or whatever.
1. copy one of these kopimi symbols, or make up your own
2. put it on a homepage
3. link the logotype to: www.kopimi.com/kopimi
One of the earliest reports about Kopimism as a political movement was mentioned in an article from the “Solidarity with Ladonia! Stop the dirty war” blog on July 25th, 2006. The post described “kopimist intellectuals” as a group fighting an ongoing war between copyright holders and the “Imperialist Coalition Forces of the Internets”, including Swedish torrent file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.
A Wikipedia draft for “Kopimist”, created on January 28th, 2007, asserted that the term “Kopimist” had gained recognition from publicity surrounding The Pirate Bay’s attempt to buy Sealand, a man-made island that would serve as a micronation unrestricted by copyright laws.
[…]a person who has the philosophical belief that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted.
The /r/Kopimism subreddit was created on May 17th, 2011.
Missionary Church of Kopimism
The Missionary Church of Kopimism (in Swedish Missionerande Kopimistsamfundet) was founded by then 19-year-old Swedish philosophy student Isak Gerson in 2010. Advocating the free copying of information as a way of life and a sacred virtue, the church takes its philosophy from the New Testament Bible quote in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” It was subsequently modified by Kopimists to “Copy me, my brothers, just as I copy Christ himself.”
The religion uses a symbol containing the keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting on a computer “Ctrl+C Ctrl+V” (Apple+C and Apple+V for mac users), and has also adopted the kopimi “K” symbol. According to Geekosystem, there were two unsuccessful attempts to have the Church of Kopimism recognized as a religious institution in Sweden. The third attempt resulted in being formally recognized as a religion by the Swedish government on January 5th, 2012.
The story was reported on by a variety of news outlets including the BBC, the New Yorker and BoingBoing. In an interview with New Scientist, Gerson described the reasoning behind seeking official recognition:
We have had this faith for several years and one day we thought, why not try and get it registered? It was quite difficult. The authorities were quite dogmatic with their formalities. It took us three tries and more than a year to get recognised.
According to the Appspot Twitter sentiment analysis tool, tweets containing the work “kopimism” are 82% positive:
Several YouTube response videos were uploaded after the church was officially recognized by the Swedish government. YouTuber pogobat claimed that the religious part of Kopimism seemed like a joke, citing a video titled “Al Tab – The Kopimist Preacher.”
Several Twitter accounts related to Kopimism have been created including @KopimismNZ, @Kopimisme and @KopimismTurkiye. The Kopimism Facebook page has 2,852 likes as of February 1st, 2012.
Search queries for “kopimism” rose dramatically following the January 2012 announcement that it had been officially recognized as a religion by the Swedish government.
Blogspot – How the Kopimists Conquered Internets – and Launched a War / 7-25-2006
The Machine Starts – The Pirate and the Priest: How Digital Turned into Divine