Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the net

Internet piracy as a faith
Swedish self-confessed internet pirates want official recognition of their anti-copyright stance as a religious belief – and seek legal protection for it. Russian like-minded activists also have their eye on establishing a “piracy church”.

The self-styled Missionary Church of Kopimism holds “Crtl+C Ctrl+V” as sacred symbols and professes the unimpeded flow of information, reports popular weblog Torrent Freak. Copying and sharing is the most beautiful thing there is while denying the right to do it (like keeping secret the code of proprietary software) is sinful and comparable to slavery, they say.

As for violation of copyright, which many consider to be stealing (both a secular crime and a sin for many religions), kopimists believe it to be a gesture of respect. When something you have authored is shared, you know you have done something good for the world, they argue.

So far, the new religion founded by 19-year-old philosophy student Isaac Gerson has had little success in receiving official recognition. The group applied for such status in late 2010. They were denied it in late March on the grounds that their gatherings did not constitute worship.

The church has since requested an explanation of what the authorities want them to practice to gain acceptance. And they keep looking for new practitioners through their website.

The religious (or pseudo-religious, one might argue) path is one of the options considered by Russian opponents of copyright as well. In mid-March, the Justice Ministry denied registration to the Pirate Party of Russia. The stated reason was that “piracy” is a criminal offence in Russian law.

The organizers of the movement responded with some sarcastic comments, pointing to the fact that the only part of the criminal code mentioning piracy deals with boarding vessels in the high seas and stealing their cargo, rather then sharing files on the internet. They also said they would follow the lead of the like-minded group in Sweden.

“Our motto will be ‘copy and multiply whatever there is in the world,” Pavel Rassudov, spokesman for the action group promised.

Such attempts may seem a mockery at first glance, but there is some truth in the idea of a free information faith. After all, one of the most sacred acts we humans regularly do – conceiving a child – boils down to copying your genetic information and sharing it with your partner.