This Wednesday something remarkable happened. Sharing, with special emphasis on file-sharing, officially became a recognized religious sacrement in Sweden. Enter the Missionary Chursh of Kopimism which believes that the communication of beneficial infomation is sacrosanct -- and they've even taken CTL + C and CTL + V (key strokes for the copy and paste function) as sacred symbols. After three unsucessful prior attempts at legal recongnition, the Kopimists fought hard in Swedish courts for two years before emerging victorious at the end of December 2011. Kopimism is a non-theistic tradition (no god or gods) whose central tenant is the idea that the copying, sharing, and remixing of information are sacred acts with long and proud evolutionary histories.
Confessional Kopimist beleive that file-sharing is holy and its heavily promoted as a important practice. Kopimist don't have priest but have Opar's, short for "operators", who are available for counseling, whether it's to figure out how to configure your Virtual Private Network or to provide guidance on more profound spiritual questions. Kopimist get together for religious service called "copy-acting" and engage in file-sharing and other forms of liturgy which can happen at a physical location or online.
It comes as no surpise that a religion that promotes file-sharing would be born in Sweden, after all it's the birthplace of the world's largest file-sharing torrent tracker the infamous (not to mention awesome) piratebay.org and also to the International Pirate Party, which since its inception in 2006 has spread to 41 countries worldwide. But, there are other reasons that it's no incoincidence that Kopimism would emerge in Sweden. Sweden has the highest per capita of Internet users with over 90% of the population accessing the Internet on a weekly basis, which is one reason Facebook just opened a new data center there. The Swedish government was also very progressive in its approach to web infrastructure by installing broadband Internet into housing complexes while most people in the US were still on dial up.
Kopimism may be the first recognized religion born out of the generation of so called "digital natives". With only three thousand founding members, how likely is it that we will see large numbers of converts to Kopimism beyond Sweden? Well, there are hundreds of millions of active file-sharing users in the world, so many in fact that their numbers often eclipse the active users of both Facebook and YouTube. If only a small percentage convert, then Kopimism stands to grow substantially. Worldwide interest in this nascent religion has been so strong that the servers hosting its website crashed immediately following the announcement of recognition, and that's a good sign for the world's youngest religion, one that Kopimist will likely celebrate with keystrokes of joy.
Evan Schoepke (@gaiapunk) is a practicing Kopimist (and Taoist) hailing from beautiful Olympia, Washington where he works as a permaculture educator and designer. This post originally appeared at his blog www.punkrockpermaculture.wordpress.com.
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