Kopimi is an online project that promotes a free internet. The movement campaigns against government control of the internet as well as the effects of intellectual and copyright laws on free content sharing on the web. It employs disruptive awareness campaigns. These have earned it recognition in Sweden as a religious community. Followers believe in their fundamental right to create, copy, and distribute online digital content. This includes media files, broadcasts, and software.
Kopimi was established as a response to counter the efforts of the Anti-Piracy Bureau. The Anti-Piracy Bureau aims to crack down on piracy. It has been credited with numerous successes of litigating against copyright violations in the movie and gaming industries. Kopimi is part of The Pirate Bureau, a Swedish group opposed to intellectual property and online copyright laws. The movement is behind the highly successful online file sharing site, The Pirate Bay.
Like all Kopimi stories, the origin of the religious angle has a funny twist. In a media interview, the lawyer for the proponents of online copyright law referred to file-sharing advocates as a “cult.” This gave the founders the idea to register the movement as a religious outfit. The church had just separated from the state in Sweden, and religious reform was in the air. Religious groups including Kopimi now enjoy numerous protections and advantages.
The Emergence of Kopimism as a Religion
The project borrows from the structure of religious organizations, specifically the Catholic Church. This includes the confidentiality and secrecy associated with communications between the Catholic followers and their priests. The idea to call the movement a church then went viral. Thus, Kopimism as a religion or the Church of Kopimism was born.
After several attempts, the movement was finally registered as a religious organization in 2012. It had an initial informal membership of around three thousand followers. Official recognition of the movement as a church did not yield tangible benefits. However, it strengthened the group’s identity and made it easier to mobilize new members.
Adherents believe in the freedom to copy and paste. The registration is seen as a big win in the battle against online copyright laws. It attracted a lot of media attention giving more mileage to the activists. The movement advances the philosophical belief that information including online content should be freely shared without restrictions.
The Founding Of Kopimism and Its Future
Isak Gerson founded Kopimism. The sincerity of the founder and the cult-like following of adherents have continued to drive the ideology and promote its cause. Kopimism mashes its values, ideology, and structures with heavy influences from the Holy Catholic Church. This includes adapting its slogan from a Bible quote. “Copy me, just as I copy Christ himself,” is derived from a Bible verse contained in 1 Corinthians 11:1.
The movement continues to build a strong online reputation, especially on social media. Kopimism continues to grow. It currently boasts of a presence in more than twenty countries around the world including the US. The movement is affiliated to The Pirate Party, a political party in Sweden. It drives its ideology through the political party, which supports the reform of copyright and patent laws.