OK. So file-sharing is now a religion

Lately, it seems that online piracy has been taking a beating from some of highest annals of government. SOPA, PIPA, ACTA – all legislation designed to curb the enormous sums of moolah lost by the entertainment and software industries, but in reality, ebb away at personal freedoms and privacy of the average person who just wants to check their email.

Which is why, regardless of where you stand in the argument, it’s good to see a light-hearted piece of legal news come out of (seemingly) the champion of online freedoms: Sweden.

Welcome to Kopimism. A new movement started by 19 year old philosophy student, Isak Gerson. And now officially recognized as a religion by the Swedish government.

Before the pirates start swilling rum and singing “Yo ho ho and a free copy of Adobe Studio”, Gerson does not openly advocate piracy, nor is it the goal of his Church (notice the lack of quotes around that word). Instead, it seems the fundamental doctrine centres around the fact that file-sharing does not necessarily mean piracy. This is a point I can’t stop harping on about myself. Even innocent personal and commercial uses for torrents and file repositories are being victimized by legislation primarily driven by MPAA, RIAA and various software vendors. You don’t need to look far past the Megaupload saga to see that legitimate users of such services are liable in losing petabytes of personal and rightfully owned data in the crossfire.

You could call such users naive. After all, Mega Upload consumed 4% of global internet traffic, and was indeed a safe haven for pirated content. But take the very reliable and widely used Dropbox for instance. The wording of this legislation, particularly the (now dead thanks largely to massive online protest) SOPA act would fundamentally allow a plaintiff (MPAA or RIAA) to shut down the entire service on the basis of just ONE copyrighted file being available on their system. And lets not get into the political abuse such laws could provide governments. (These laws only come about after these organizations commit donations to US campaigners)

For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament
[/quote_left]Gerson said in a statement: “For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members, Being recognised by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of Kopimi. Hopefully this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution,” he added.

So an official philosophy that highlights the fact that the dissemination of information has a true value to us all. This cannot be denied by anyone. This basic concept has not only been a priveledge enjoyed by humans for millenia, but integral to our advancement. Human technology has developed at a faster pace in the last 10 years than preceding 500 [citation needed]. The internet being an integral tool in that. And now, at our most golden hour, that privelidge is under attack from many angles. All involve profit. Only now do we find global consumption begin to outpace commercial delivery. Which says more about outdated and lazy business models than our failure to regulate the internet enough thus far.

But hey, some people will just steal because they can. And doing so from your own home probably doesn’t feel quite as serious as stealing the neighbor’s car.

Many will argue that this official acceptance of Kopimism will cause the most minute of a ripples in the entertainment industry’s march towards a World Wide Web where we are all watched. But no one can argue that it’s a victory for people with legitimate reasons (and the legal rights) to share information across the same medium.

I’m not the pirate type myself. Being a software developer, I respect the effort my counterparts have put into building something I find entertaining or productive. But for the little guys who’s voices are lost in the argument (especially around the topic of privacy), maybe a church that holds CTRL-C and CTRL-V as scared symbols is a step in the right direction.