Saturday, January 7, 2012

Light a Candle for Me at the Church of Kopimism

Oh, Sweden, you've done it again. You may know it better as the land that brought us ABBA, Volvo and the miracle that is flat-pack furniture but Sweden has another face.

Although the country has gone nearly 200 years without being directly involved in armed conflict the Swedes have lately been at the front lines in the battle against what we might refer to as "Big Copyright".

Sweden has given birth to the famous torrent site The Pirate Bay, the seemingly unlikely but increasingly popular Pirate Party and now, the Missionary Church of Kopimism. In a recent press release the Church of Kopimism announced that the Swedish government had officially recognized it as a religious organization.

This might not seem significant until you look at the Kopimism statement of faith:

"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."

Big Copyright has been in the news pretty much constantly ever since Metallica sued Napster in 2000 (the article is still online, well done Forbes).

The years to follow would see Big Copyright extending those lawsuits to individuals and tirelessly lobbying governments to lump copyright violations in with much more serious offences. Regrettably, the power to control what information is shared online is not something that can be easily entrusted to big business.

While the Pirate Party was the political answer to this problem, the Church of Kopimism seeks to be the spiritual response. By entwining the right to share information with the right to religious freedom, the Kopimi seek to further illustrate the extremes to which Big Copyright is taking its position - and the frightening laws which are being put forth as a result.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to make light of religious freedom, but I do not doubt that the entire project is strongly tongue-in-cheek.

Besides, there really is something heartwarming in the image of a roomful of lawyers collectively facepalming at this latest salvo from a nation that seems, for all its years of peace, to have held on to some of that Viking charisma.

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