24 Apr 2012

'Ctrl+C me, my brothers' - Piracy preachers paste themselves in US

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.
Previously: 23rd April
Kopimism, Sweden's Pirate Religion, Begins to Plunder America
Our Swedish born religion, whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks—has made its way to the United States.
Followers of so-called "Kopimism" believe copying, sharing, and improving on knowledge, music, and other types of information is only human—the Romans remixed Greek mythology, after all, they say. In January, Kopimism—a play on the words "copy me"—was formally recognized by a Swedish government agency, raising its profile worldwide.
"Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. Knowledge is also something we should copy regardless of the law," says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism. "It makes us better when we share knowledge and culture with each other."

More than 3,500 people "like" Kopimism on Facebook, and thousands more practice its sacred ritual of file sharing. According to its manifesto, private, closed-source software code and anti-piracy software are "comparable to slavery." Kopimist "Ops," or spiritual leaders, are encouraged to give counsel to people who want to pirate files, are banned from recording and should encrypt all virtual religious service meetings "because of society's vicious legislative and litigious persecution of Kopimists."
Official in-person meetings must happen in places free of anti-Kopimist monitoring and in spaces with the Kopimist symbol—a pyramid with the letter K inside. To be initiated new parishioners must share the Kopimist symbol and say the sacred words "copied and seeded."
The gospel of the church has begun to spread, with Kopimist branches in 18 countries.
An American branch of the religion was recently registered with Illinois and is in the process of gaining federal recognition, according to Christopher Carmean, a 25-year-old student at the University of Chicago andhead of the U.S. branch.
"Data is what we are made of, data is what defines our life, and data is how we express ourselves," says Carmean. "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."

About 450 people have registered with his church, and about 30 of them are actively practicing the religion, whose symbols include Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V—the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste.
It's no surprise the religion was born in Sweden—it has some of the laxest copyright laws in the world. The Swedish Pirate Party has two seats in the European Parliament, and The Pirate Bay, a Swedish website that's one of the world's largest portals to illegal files, has avoided being shut down for years.
Gerson is happy to allow people who want to open their own branches of Kopimism to copy its symbols and religious documents.
"There's been a couple people that asked me [to start congregations], but I tell them they shouldn't ask. You don't need permission," he says. "It's a project, and I want projects to be copied, so I'm happy when people copy without asking."
Most Kopimists say they realized they were practicing the religion before they found it.
"There are many people who are like me, who always held the Kopimist ideals, but hadn't yet heard of the official church," says Lauren Pespisa, a web developer in Cambridge, Mass., who gave a speech about the religion in March to a group of anti-copyright activists called the Massachusetts Pirate Party. "I think some people are like me and have embraced it officially and publicly, but some people believe in it and don't really want to mix religion and politics."
That's a big criticism of the religion—lawsuits brought upon Kopimists is a form of religious persecution, according to Gerson. But Pespisa says that crying persecution in court probably "wouldn't hold up in reality."
In a blog post in late March, Carmean wrote that people should not "bring a legal argument to a religion fight."

"Expecting any religion to provide a logic-based mandate for every single action that one might take is absurd and offensive," he wrote. "It insults the basic moral fiber of Kopimists and all of humanity to outright demand a total moral code of conduct from anyone purporting to have a new perspective on issues of our time."

Although many Kopimists are practicing a "sacred" ritual whenever they download or share a movie, CD, or book, they also regularly meet in online chat rooms to discuss the religion. Many of them are also internet activists, working to make file sharing legal, regardless of copyright. Even if they're unsuccessful, Gerson is happy to help the information flow in any way he can.

"I think we need to change the laws, but I don't think we need to focus only on them. I think laws can, in many cases, be ignored," he says. "We want to encourage people to share regardless of what the laws say."

1 comment:

  1. As you can see from my January 4th post, I am proud to be a Kopimi. Practically this has meant responding to reprint requests by offering my blessing and making no charge.

    Like many others, I have long held copyright and patent laws in contempt as a very unhealthy practice for mankind. Kopimism is simply a convenient label for the collective.

    Proud to be a neo-chauvinist Kopimi.

    P.S. That's right, I am attempting to coin a new term "neo-chauvinist" approximately define as: Prejudiced belief in the EQUALITY of one's own gender, group, or kind. - as a response to the development of the pervasive and expanding social phenomenon misandrism.

    I am loving the interesting verbiage but simply put we are talking about Freedom and Equality.