Swedish Government Recognizes File-Sharing Church

Dennis Faas's picture

The Swedish government has formally recognized a church based on the belief that people have the right to copy digital data.

The Church of Kopimism claims that information is holy, with an inherent value, and the act of copying information, known as "kopyacting" is a religious activity that increases the value of information by passing it to more people.

The group even claims keystrokes CTRL + C and CTRL + V as religious symbols, the common key combination used for copying and pasting data using a computer keyboard.

Cynical observers, however, suggest the Church of Kopimism exists not to promote the value of information, but to promote illegal copying of data, all the way from casual backups to unauthorized software piracy.

Government Recognition Not to be Confused with Approval

After previously rejecting the bid twice, a Swedish government department has finally agreed to register the church as a religious organization.

Officials said it was not the government's place to decide whether the beliefs of a religious group are valid. Swedish law provides for a clear separation between church and state, so as far as the Swedish government is concerned, its official recognition of a specific religion is little different from registering a company name: it doesn't provide any added validity. (Source: thelocal.se)

Piracy Supporters Could Claim Religious Protection

The church now looks set to use its new status to argue that copying data cannot be a crime in Sweden, as it is a protected religious activity. Industry experts, however, suggest that argument is highly unlikely to succeed, as religious beliefs normally don't override Swedish law.

"It doesn't mean that illegal file-sharing will become legal, any more than if 'Jedi' was recognized as a religion everyone would be walking around with light sabres," music industry analyst Mark Mulligan told the BBC. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Sweden has been at the center of a long-running debate about software and media piracy. It was the original host nation for the Pirate Bay, a site that links to torrent files used for sharing data. However, that site is now based elsewhere for legal reasons.

A political offshoot of the pro-copying movement, the Pirate Party, won two of Sweden's seats in the European Parliament in 2009. Last year, the German Pirate Party won 15 seats in one of the country's regional parliaments.

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