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Pro-Piracy Group Says It's Now A Recognized Religion In Sweden

A screengrab of a Kopimi symbol, used by the Missionary Church of Kopimism to signify a site's willingness to be copied.
A screengrab of a Kopimi symbol, used by the Missionary Church of Kopimism to signify a site's willingness to be copied.

The Missionary Church of Kopimism has one central belief: that it's okay to copy information, in any form.

And now the church of file-sharing has finally succeeded in its bid to be recognized as a religion in Sweden, according to a press release from the group and a report on Torrent Freak that is being widely cited. The new development would mark a turnaround for the group begun by philosophy student Isak Gerson.

The group's two previous requests to be certified as an official religion were denied, on the grounds that its adherents didn't have enough in the way of formal rituals. Sweden has long been a bastion for piracy advocates; five years ago, the country's Pirate Party was founded in order push for copyright and patent reforms.

"We confessional Kopimists have not only depended on each other in this struggle, but on everyone who is copying information. To everyone with an internet connection: Keep copying. Maintain hardline Kopimi," Gerson told Torrent Freak.

Sure, you could write the whole thing off as the digital equivalent of the popularity of the Rastafarian religion among a subset of college students. Over at The Raw Story, Stephen C. Webster writes that in 2010, Sweden had 22 recognized religions; most citizens follow a form of Lutheranism.

But the Kopimism group has also studied the Swedish constitution, which guarantees all citizens the freedom to practice their religion. And they say their definition of "religion" — that it is "a belief system with rituals" — holds sway.

Since the news was announced early Wednesday, the church's website has been intermittently down. Here's how the Kopimism welcome page, written in English, ends:

"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. What they most of all want [is] to limit the knowledge. We need to steel ourselves for their hatred and aggression."

The Missionary Church of Kopimism counts 3,000 members. But as you might imagine, Gerson doesn't mind if others share in their victory.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.