Sweden’s pretty liberal when it comes to copyright laws, as a government and as a culture – it’s the home of the thepiratebay.org and there’s a healthy anti-anti-piracy-movement movement in Sweden that’s been active since 2001. Further proof of piracy as culture in Sweden is the fact that the Swedish government just officially recognized the Church of Kopimism.
Kopimism’s central dogma centers around the idea that information is a holy thing, and copying information a sacrament. CTRL+C and CTRL+V are considered holy symbols. The English page of the church’s website says:
We challenge all copyright believers – most of which have a great deal of influence in politics, and who derive their power by limiting people’s lives and freedom.
Isak Gerson’s personal website (translated by Google) says that a Kopimist a “person who has the philosophical belief that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted. This philosophy opposes copyrights in all forms and encourages piracy of all types of media including music, movies, TV shows, and software.”
So Gerson (who, weirdly, is also a member of the Christian Student Movement in Sweden) took this philosophy and pasted some “ritual” labels on everything and got a religion (after petitioning to the government 3 times, to his credit). The result is both a straight-faced mockery of the difficulty governments face w/r/t defining ‘religion’ (on the Kopimist website, the first line of one of the definitions of Kopimism is the defense “A religion is a belief system with rituals.”) and a strange manifestation of a strongly held belief.
Religions rooted in the internet are not a new thing. With all those people registering as “Jedi” in the 2001 census, Pastafarianism, and the prevalence of Cthulu worship, the appearance of a semi-ironic religious movement started by otherwise apathetic 20 year old males is becoming a pattern.
Maybe it’s just another irony-soaked fad, like speaking with ridiculous grammar or posting hilarious misquotes – or maybe the semi-ironic religions created will garner more earnestness and lose some irony and become, weirdly, a real way that people define their philosophies. The definition of the word “religion”, in the context of recent events and the influence of internet culture, is changing, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens to it.