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Europe - Scandinavia

Kopimism: the world's newest religion explained
Alison George ("New Scientist," January 6, 2012)

Uppsala, Sweden - Isak Gerson is spiritual leader of the world's newest religion, Kopimism, devoted to file-sharing. On 5 January the Church of Kopimism was formally recognised as a religion by the Swedish government.

Tell me about this new file-sharing religion, Kopimism.

We were founded about 15 months ago and we believe that information is holy and that the act of copying is holy.

Why make a religion out of file-sharing? Why not just be an ordinary club without defining yourselves as being a religious community?

Because we see ourselves as a religious group, a church seems like a good way of organising ourselves.

Was it hard to become an official religion?

We have had this faith for several years and one day we thought, why not try and get it registered? It was quite difficult. The authorities were quite dogmatic with their formalities. It took us three tries and more than a year to get recognised.

What criteria do you have to meet to become an official religion?

The law states that to be a religion you have to be an organisation that practises moments of prayer or meditation in your rituals.

What are the Kopimist prayers and meditations?

We have a part of our religious practices where we worship the value of information by copying it.

You call this "kopyacting". Do you actually meet up in a building, like a church, to undertake these rituals?

We do meet up, but it doesn't have to be a physical room. It could be a server or a web page too.

I understand that certain symbols have special significance in Kopimism.

Yes. There is the "kopimi" logo, which is a K written inside a pyramid a symbol used online to show you want to be copied. But there are also symbols that represent and encourage copying, for example, "CTRL+V" and "CTRL+C".

Why is information, and sharing it, so important to you?

Information is the building block of everything around me and everything I believe in. Copying it is a way of multiplying the value of information.

What's your stance on illegal file-sharing?

I think that the copyright laws are very problematic, and at least need to be rewritten, but I would suggest getting rid of most of them.

So all file-sharing should be legal?

Absolutely.

Are you just trying to make a point, or is this religion for real?

We've had this faith for several years.

What has the reaction been from established churches?

I haven't spoken to many of them, but those I have spoken to have been curious, and seen it as an interesting discussion.

Can you get excommunicated from the Church of Kopimism?

We have never thought about it. But if you don't believe in our values then I guess there is no point in being a member, and if you do believe in our values you can't really be excommunicated.

How many church members are there?

Around 3000.

How do you become a Kopimist?

Our site is down for moment, because there has been too much traffic, but when it is up, you just have to read about our values and agree with them, then you can register on the web page.

Is there a deity associated with Kopimism?

No, there isn't.

Is Julian Assange a high priest of Kopimism?

No. We have had no communication with him.

Does Kopimism have anything to say about the afterlife?

Not really. As a religion we are not so focussed on humans.

It could be a digital afterlife.

Information doesn't really have a life, but I guess it can be forgotten, but as long as it is copied it won't be.


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