The new religion of Kopimism

A new religion, born of the internet age, is seeking legal recognition:

A Swedish religion whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks—has made its way to the United States.

Followers of so-called “Kopimism” believe copying, sharing, and improving on knowledge, music, and other types of information is only human—the Romans remixed Greek mythology, after all, they say. In January, Kopimism—a play on the words “copy me”—was formally recognized by a Swedish government agency, raising its profile worldwide.

“Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. Knowledge is also something we should copy regardless of the law,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism. “It makes us better when we share knowledge and culture with each other.”

More than 3,500 people “like” Kopimism on Facebook, and thousands more practice its sacred ritual of file sharing. According to its manifesto, private, closed-source software code and anti-piracy software are “comparable to slavery.” Kopimist “Ops,” or spiritual leaders, are encouraged to give counsel to people who want to pirate files, are banned from recording and should encrypt all virtual religious service meetings “because of society’s vicious legislative and litigious persecution of Kopimists.”

Official in-person meetings must happen in places free of anti-Kopimist monitoring and in spaces with the Kopimist symbol—a pyramid with the letter K inside. To be initiated new parishioners must share the Kopimist symbol and say the sacred words “copied and seeded.”

The gospel of the church has begun to spread, with Kopimist branches in 18 countries.

An American branch of the religion was recently registered with Illinois and is in the process of gaining federal recognition, according to Christopher Carmean, a 25-year-old student at the University of Chicago and head of the U.S. branch.

“Data is what we are made of, data is what defines our life, and data is how we express ourselves,” says Carmean. “Forms of copying, remixing, and sharing enhance the quality of life for all who have access to them. Attempts to hinder sharing are antithetical to our data-driven existence.”

About 450 people have registered with his church, and about 30 of them are actively practicing the religion, whose symbols include Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V—the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste.

via Kopimism, Sweden’s Pirate Religion, Begins to Plunder America – US News and World Report.

We see, of course, what the Kopimists are doing, seeking the legal protections given to religion so that they can pirate music, movies, and the like with impunity.  And when they are prosecuted for internet piracy they can claim religious persecution!

And yet, isn’t this the pattern for the way many people approach religion today?  Their theology is based on what they “like.”  (People don’t like the concept of sin, judgment, and Hell or anything else that would restrict their behavior so they don’t believe in them.)  The Kopimists are simply reasoning backwards, starting with what they like to do and building a religion around it.

What might be some other religions people could construct as a way to justify their bad habits?

How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    “How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?”

    It’s like pornography – a bogus religion is hard to pin down definition-wise but you know it when you see it.

  • Pete

    “How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?”

    It’s like pornography – a bogus religion is hard to pin down definition-wise but you know it when you see it.

  • fws

    The Law works best when we use it as intended, as a mirror for US and as a curb for US,

    It would be great to see this post be about this exercise rather than the Law as a mirror for THEM and a curb for THEM.

    Let me start:

    I see all the time that my old adam tries to turn the best things of my Lutheran Christian faith into something that is about me when it needs to be about them (example MY good behavior rather than service to THEM, my neighbor) or,,.. I make my faith as being about THEM (they just dont get it! or…. look at what they are doing) rather than make it about ME ( look at what I am doing ! Repent!).

    I do suspect that the THEYS on this will earn my criticism for example by not following mine! ha!

  • fws

    The Law works best when we use it as intended, as a mirror for US and as a curb for US,

    It would be great to see this post be about this exercise rather than the Law as a mirror for THEM and a curb for THEM.

    Let me start:

    I see all the time that my old adam tries to turn the best things of my Lutheran Christian faith into something that is about me when it needs to be about them (example MY good behavior rather than service to THEM, my neighbor) or,,.. I make my faith as being about THEM (they just dont get it! or…. look at what they are doing) rather than make it about ME ( look at what I am doing ! Repent!).

    I do suspect that the THEYS on this will earn my criticism for example by not following mine! ha!

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As an author I take great exception to this. Bascially, when a person tells authors and software writers we shouldn’t be charging money, what they’re saying is that we should be working for free.

    I wonder what would happen if I walked up to a Kopimist (?) who worked at Wal-Mart and told them I should just get things for free, and that they shouldn’t receive a paycheck for their labor.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As an author I take great exception to this. Bascially, when a person tells authors and software writers we shouldn’t be charging money, what they’re saying is that we should be working for free.

    I wonder what would happen if I walked up to a Kopimist (?) who worked at Wal-Mart and told them I should just get things for free, and that they shouldn’t receive a paycheck for their labor.

  • Tom Hering

    How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?

    At a minimum, a religion ought to (A.) posit a god or gods, (B.) explain the origin, nature, and pupose of life, the world, and the universe, and (C.) prescribe the correct relationship between (1.) an adherent and his god or gods, (2.) an adherent and other adherents, and (3.) an adherent and non-adherents.

    Of course, Kopimism’s leaders can invent all the missing stuff if they need to.

    (Sudden thought: what will the first scandal involving Kopimism’s leaders look like?)

  • Tom Hering

    How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?

    At a minimum, a religion ought to (A.) posit a god or gods, (B.) explain the origin, nature, and pupose of life, the world, and the universe, and (C.) prescribe the correct relationship between (1.) an adherent and his god or gods, (2.) an adherent and other adherents, and (3.) an adherent and non-adherents.

    Of course, Kopimism’s leaders can invent all the missing stuff if they need to.

    (Sudden thought: what will the first scandal involving Kopimism’s leaders look like?)

  • fws

    J Dean,

    My understanding of copyright law is that it was originally intended to give authors the income from their work to encourage them to continue to produce new and creative content.

    So it was two edged: The copyright was for a very limited time, say 30 years so that the writer would need to keep producing yet be able to enjoy the fruit of his or her labor for mostly a lifetime.

    now corporations like Disney keep pushing the copyright lifetime out and out and out. And this is not a good thing.

    to summarize: the aim of copyright law is to stimulate the production of creative works for the general good.

    I agree that violation of those laws IS theft in the direction of stealing from authors because of the laws we have, and it is a perversion also to extend the life of copyrights as well.

    At the same time, there was a time when copyright laws did not exist. And was it theft to republish works without permission back then? no. was it considered immoral to change the work or not ascribe to the author? yes. So copyright law is not by divine right. It is not , necessarily a breaking of the 7th commandment.

    And there DOES seem to be a general “natural law” , perhaps because the world is fallen, that information wants always to be free. example: gossip. But then, looking at what we all do with information is probably the most stinging indightment of sinful man and proof that original sin truly does exist.

    to sum: Information DOES always want to be free. This seems to be a universal law. Almost anytime we want or really need to hide information is a sign of the existence of sin in the world. Even clothing is that! This is the struggle between light and darknes..

  • fws

    J Dean,

    My understanding of copyright law is that it was originally intended to give authors the income from their work to encourage them to continue to produce new and creative content.

    So it was two edged: The copyright was for a very limited time, say 30 years so that the writer would need to keep producing yet be able to enjoy the fruit of his or her labor for mostly a lifetime.

    now corporations like Disney keep pushing the copyright lifetime out and out and out. And this is not a good thing.

    to summarize: the aim of copyright law is to stimulate the production of creative works for the general good.

    I agree that violation of those laws IS theft in the direction of stealing from authors because of the laws we have, and it is a perversion also to extend the life of copyrights as well.

    At the same time, there was a time when copyright laws did not exist. And was it theft to republish works without permission back then? no. was it considered immoral to change the work or not ascribe to the author? yes. So copyright law is not by divine right. It is not , necessarily a breaking of the 7th commandment.

    And there DOES seem to be a general “natural law” , perhaps because the world is fallen, that information wants always to be free. example: gossip. But then, looking at what we all do with information is probably the most stinging indightment of sinful man and proof that original sin truly does exist.

    to sum: Information DOES always want to be free. This seems to be a universal law. Almost anytime we want or really need to hide information is a sign of the existence of sin in the world. Even clothing is that! This is the struggle between light and darknes..

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS @ 5,

    If you mean by extinguishing copyrights that, when I have been ushered into glory, somebody else should not automatically inherit my copyright and piggy-back off me, then yes, you’re right.

    But if I put a product out (a book), then while I am alive I ought to be compensated for that book.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    FWS @ 5,

    If you mean by extinguishing copyrights that, when I have been ushered into glory, somebody else should not automatically inherit my copyright and piggy-back off me, then yes, you’re right.

    But if I put a product out (a book), then while I am alive I ought to be compensated for that book.

  • Michael B.

    I personally judge the sincerity of a religious believer by asking the question, “What has it cost this person to be Christian? (or whatever faith they follow). In other words, “What has being a Christian forced him to do that he wished he wouldn’t have to do”? In the extreme cases you have the martyrs, but there are other examples. For example, in college I knew someone who was just dying to come out and go to parties with everyone else, but he stayed behind because of his Christian beliefs. That’s strong evidence that he has a god with different interests than his own. Now if he was just an introvert, or was just worried about the earthly consequences, then I wouldn’t count that as evidence. There are other examples of this type of true sincerity that have been seen: gay Christians who refuse to have same-sex relations; a kid who turned down going to Harvard because he thought it was too immoral and instead went to a local Christian college; an unmarried teenager who forgo college to instead have a baby because she didn’t believe in abortion.

    Generally when you hear somebody say, “I feel the Lord guiding us to do XXXX”, it means “I just can’t wait to do XXXX”.

    Gene brought up hell and judgement. It’s really easy to say a bunch of people we don’t know or have no emotional attachment to, such as Muslims living 2000 miles away, are all going to hell. I hardly count that as evidence. On the other hand, my mom had an acquaintance (call her Beth) who believed her own daughter who had died was in hell. Obviously that stirred with Beth’s emotions. But that to me was evidence that Beth had sincere belief. She believed in a god who did something that she wasn’t happy with. To summarize, I’m very skeptical of people who worship gods who line up so perfectly with what they want to do and what’s in their earthly best interest.

  • Michael B.

    I personally judge the sincerity of a religious believer by asking the question, “What has it cost this person to be Christian? (or whatever faith they follow). In other words, “What has being a Christian forced him to do that he wished he wouldn’t have to do”? In the extreme cases you have the martyrs, but there are other examples. For example, in college I knew someone who was just dying to come out and go to parties with everyone else, but he stayed behind because of his Christian beliefs. That’s strong evidence that he has a god with different interests than his own. Now if he was just an introvert, or was just worried about the earthly consequences, then I wouldn’t count that as evidence. There are other examples of this type of true sincerity that have been seen: gay Christians who refuse to have same-sex relations; a kid who turned down going to Harvard because he thought it was too immoral and instead went to a local Christian college; an unmarried teenager who forgo college to instead have a baby because she didn’t believe in abortion.

    Generally when you hear somebody say, “I feel the Lord guiding us to do XXXX”, it means “I just can’t wait to do XXXX”.

    Gene brought up hell and judgement. It’s really easy to say a bunch of people we don’t know or have no emotional attachment to, such as Muslims living 2000 miles away, are all going to hell. I hardly count that as evidence. On the other hand, my mom had an acquaintance (call her Beth) who believed her own daughter who had died was in hell. Obviously that stirred with Beth’s emotions. But that to me was evidence that Beth had sincere belief. She believed in a god who did something that she wasn’t happy with. To summarize, I’m very skeptical of people who worship gods who line up so perfectly with what they want to do and what’s in their earthly best interest.

  • fws

    michael b

    I have to disagree with you as Lutheran christian.

    Virtue is always something we don’t really want to do. Our heart is against it. The proof of this is that virtue is always the product of hard work.

    This hard fact is not overturned by the fact that we can feel good about being virtuous as well.

    The Law works not only by stick but also with carrot.

    The Law is still, always, about extorting virtue out of us in either case! And the end result is not to produce virtue. Virtue is NOT it’s own reward. God wants us to do mercy and goodness to others, and not aim merely at polishing our moral credentials, staring at our moral navel as we do so.

    This can be the process of upbringing, which is to be taught the discipline of virtue practiced until it becomes a habit.

    We can feel a certain satisfaction with being virtuous, and that is because we can see that virtue results in many blessings from God and lack of virtue results at the end in punishment. Morality stories are very important to the formation of youth. Luther, in the preface to the Small Catechism says we are to present to children stories from the bible where God rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior!

    So now what about your idea that the proof of Godliness is to do stuff that is contrary to what we really would prefer to do? nonsense.

    This proposal suggest that we actually do the Law out of our free will. And this is only true in one sense: We can chose to do the Law that is to love our neighbor freely by choice, or… God will MAKE us do it against our will! But God WILL have his way using the Law in either case!

    Scripture in contrast says this: We don’t do the Law. The Law really does us.

    Read the story of the Antinomian judge in Luke 18. He had no faith in God and no respect for neighbor. Antinomian. Yet the Law in his conscience kept coming back and nagging and nagging and would simply not go away or take a no for an answer. So the judge does the Justice he does not want to do. the conscience here is even dead to love that is the sum or completion of the Law. So even love is lacking in the Judge. He just does what he needs to to momentarily be left in peace. The Law has its way. The Law always gets it’s man. See?

  • fws

    michael b

    I have to disagree with you as Lutheran christian.

    Virtue is always something we don’t really want to do. Our heart is against it. The proof of this is that virtue is always the product of hard work.

    This hard fact is not overturned by the fact that we can feel good about being virtuous as well.

    The Law works not only by stick but also with carrot.

    The Law is still, always, about extorting virtue out of us in either case! And the end result is not to produce virtue. Virtue is NOT it’s own reward. God wants us to do mercy and goodness to others, and not aim merely at polishing our moral credentials, staring at our moral navel as we do so.

    This can be the process of upbringing, which is to be taught the discipline of virtue practiced until it becomes a habit.

    We can feel a certain satisfaction with being virtuous, and that is because we can see that virtue results in many blessings from God and lack of virtue results at the end in punishment. Morality stories are very important to the formation of youth. Luther, in the preface to the Small Catechism says we are to present to children stories from the bible where God rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior!

    So now what about your idea that the proof of Godliness is to do stuff that is contrary to what we really would prefer to do? nonsense.

    This proposal suggest that we actually do the Law out of our free will. And this is only true in one sense: We can chose to do the Law that is to love our neighbor freely by choice, or… God will MAKE us do it against our will! But God WILL have his way using the Law in either case!

    Scripture in contrast says this: We don’t do the Law. The Law really does us.

    Read the story of the Antinomian judge in Luke 18. He had no faith in God and no respect for neighbor. Antinomian. Yet the Law in his conscience kept coming back and nagging and nagging and would simply not go away or take a no for an answer. So the judge does the Justice he does not want to do. the conscience here is even dead to love that is the sum or completion of the Law. So even love is lacking in the Judge. He just does what he needs to to momentarily be left in peace. The Law has its way. The Law always gets it’s man. See?

  • fws

    michael b @ 7

    so the question back at you then is this:

    IF what I say is biblically correct, and it is, then how is it that we are to judge the “sincerity’ of a christian believer?

    That is a trick question by the way….

  • fws

    michael b @ 7

    so the question back at you then is this:

    IF what I say is biblically correct, and it is, then how is it that we are to judge the “sincerity’ of a christian believer?

    That is a trick question by the way….

  • rlewer

    Since when can religions pirate “copyrighted materials with impunity?” The whole premise is false. Church can be sued for copying choir music. Churches are not immune from copyright laws.

  • rlewer

    Since when can religions pirate “copyrighted materials with impunity?” The whole premise is false. Church can be sued for copying choir music. Churches are not immune from copyright laws.

  • Joe

    “How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?”

    I truly hope that we never ask them to do so, or if we are crazy enough to ask that the Courts are wise enough to decline.

    Once we get the courts in the business of decide what are legitimate religions, religious freedom is over.

  • Joe

    “How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?”

    I truly hope that we never ask them to do so, or if we are crazy enough to ask that the Courts are wise enough to decline.

    Once we get the courts in the business of decide what are legitimate religions, religious freedom is over.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    If you mean by extinguishing copyrights that, when I have been ushered into glory, somebody else should not automatically inherit my copyright and piggy-back off me, then yes, you’re right.

    Your heirs should have some rights. If you die now with young children and many years remain on your copyrights, your children deserve to get your share of that money more than the publisher who is already getting the share he agreed to in your contract. You have an obligation to your children ahead of any obligation to give your stuff free to those who would publish it for profit for themselves.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    If you mean by extinguishing copyrights that, when I have been ushered into glory, somebody else should not automatically inherit my copyright and piggy-back off me, then yes, you’re right.

    Your heirs should have some rights. If you die now with young children and many years remain on your copyrights, your children deserve to get your share of that money more than the publisher who is already getting the share he agreed to in your contract. You have an obligation to your children ahead of any obligation to give your stuff free to those who would publish it for profit for themselves.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Virtue is always something we don’t really want to do. Our heart is against it.

    I know mine is.

    The proof of this is that virtue is always the product of hard work.

    It is also the work of the Holy Spirit. I mean sometimes I have done something good and I look back at it almost like an out of body experience. I don’t even kind of realize what made me do it because it was so out of character. Almost like the real me wasn’t in charge at that moment, vs. those times I have had to just force myself to do something I knew was right but was no way motivated to do.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Virtue is always something we don’t really want to do. Our heart is against it.

    I know mine is.

    The proof of this is that virtue is always the product of hard work.

    It is also the work of the Holy Spirit. I mean sometimes I have done something good and I look back at it almost like an out of body experience. I don’t even kind of realize what made me do it because it was so out of character. Almost like the real me wasn’t in charge at that moment, vs. those times I have had to just force myself to do something I knew was right but was no way motivated to do.

  • helen

    Heirs should have reasonable rights, particularly if an author only became ‘profitable’ late in life. It used to be 40-50 years.

    Much more than that means copyrighted material is locked up by publishers… not valuable enough to reproduce profitably, but they won’t let a small or “free” source have it either. In some sense, that’s robbing the public.

    The blood descendants of AA Milne are shut out of the “Pooh” bonanza, I understand, because he sold the rights entirely and for too little, early on.

  • helen

    Heirs should have reasonable rights, particularly if an author only became ‘profitable’ late in life. It used to be 40-50 years.

    Much more than that means copyrighted material is locked up by publishers… not valuable enough to reproduce profitably, but they won’t let a small or “free” source have it either. In some sense, that’s robbing the public.

    The blood descendants of AA Milne are shut out of the “Pooh” bonanza, I understand, because he sold the rights entirely and for too little, early on.

  • helen

    fws @ 8
    Yet the Law in his conscience kept coming back and nagging and nagging and would simply not go away or take a no for an answer.

    I don’t have the Book handy, but I thought it was the persistent widow who finally got to the judge. ;)

  • helen

    fws @ 8
    Yet the Law in his conscience kept coming back and nagging and nagging and would simply not go away or take a no for an answer.

    I don’t have the Book handy, but I thought it was the persistent widow who finally got to the judge. ;)

  • fws

    helen @ 15

    It is a parable helen. The judge is antinomiam. How do we know. He ignored both tables of the Law “no love for god and no respect for neighbor” and he was hounded by a widow. that is a conscience that is dead even to love.

    so the judge was lawless AND loveness. and STILL God’s Law , written in the conscience of ALL men, rom 2:15 STILL got its man!

    We only think we do the Law and have a free will in that. Really and truly, it is the Law that does us. It always accuses.

    Our only “free will” is to do the Justice out of what is intended to flow Goodness and Mercy willingly or not. If we are unwilling, God will still make us do it by sending punishments and plagues until we start doing what he demands in the Law.

  • fws

    helen @ 15

    It is a parable helen. The judge is antinomiam. How do we know. He ignored both tables of the Law “no love for god and no respect for neighbor” and he was hounded by a widow. that is a conscience that is dead even to love.

    so the judge was lawless AND loveness. and STILL God’s Law , written in the conscience of ALL men, rom 2:15 STILL got its man!

    We only think we do the Law and have a free will in that. Really and truly, it is the Law that does us. It always accuses.

    Our only “free will” is to do the Justice out of what is intended to flow Goodness and Mercy willingly or not. If we are unwilling, God will still make us do it by sending punishments and plagues until we start doing what he demands in the Law.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sweden will recognize this religion, but confessional Lutheranism? not a chance.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sweden will recognize this religion, but confessional Lutheranism? not a chance.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sweden will recognize this religion, but confessional Lutheranism?

    False religions of any flavor come from the adversary and therefore are no threat to him, rather are his tools. A group confessing Christ on the other hand…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sweden will recognize this religion, but confessional Lutheranism?

    False religions of any flavor come from the adversary and therefore are no threat to him, rather are his tools. A group confessing Christ on the other hand…

  • DonS

    As someone above commented, churches aren’t immune from intellectual property laws, so the whole premise of this new “religion” is false. However, beyond that, a brief primer on intellectual property law would be helpful for them:

    “Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. Knowledge is also something we should copy regardless of the law,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism. “It makes us better when we share knowledge and culture with each other.”

    This statement is absurd. Copyright law only protects expression, not ideas. So, copyright law does nothing to prevent you from sharing knowledge. Re-express that knowledge in your own words and you will be fine. As for culture, you can discuss, enlighten, reference, and reproduce portions of cultural works, as long as it is a “fair” use, meaning that you are not undercutting the income potential of the artist. Obliterating copyright protections would only serve to drive artists from the marketplace, since their livelihood would be gone and they would have to do other kinds of jobs to eat and live.

  • DonS

    As someone above commented, churches aren’t immune from intellectual property laws, so the whole premise of this new “religion” is false. However, beyond that, a brief primer on intellectual property law would be helpful for them:

    “Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. Knowledge is also something we should copy regardless of the law,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism. “It makes us better when we share knowledge and culture with each other.”

    This statement is absurd. Copyright law only protects expression, not ideas. So, copyright law does nothing to prevent you from sharing knowledge. Re-express that knowledge in your own words and you will be fine. As for culture, you can discuss, enlighten, reference, and reproduce portions of cultural works, as long as it is a “fair” use, meaning that you are not undercutting the income potential of the artist. Obliterating copyright protections would only serve to drive artists from the marketplace, since their livelihood would be gone and they would have to do other kinds of jobs to eat and live.

  • http://WittenbergTrail James Robertson

    In Wisconsin v. Yoder, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that regardless of your belief structure, every religious belief you have is either a conviction or a preference. Specifically, the Court said that if you are willing to even discuss the negotiation of your faith, then your faith is a matter of preference. By contrast, the Court said that a conviction is non-negotiable.

    Even more specifically, the Court said that for a belief to be considered a conviction, a person must be prepared to die for that belief. If the threat of death can cause you to change your belief, that belief is nothing more than a preference. It may be a very strong preference, but it doesn’t pass the test of a conviction.

  • http://WittenbergTrail James Robertson

    In Wisconsin v. Yoder, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that regardless of your belief structure, every religious belief you have is either a conviction or a preference. Specifically, the Court said that if you are willing to even discuss the negotiation of your faith, then your faith is a matter of preference. By contrast, the Court said that a conviction is non-negotiable.

    Even more specifically, the Court said that for a belief to be considered a conviction, a person must be prepared to die for that belief. If the threat of death can cause you to change your belief, that belief is nothing more than a preference. It may be a very strong preference, but it doesn’t pass the test of a conviction.

  • Steve D

    #4: “(Sudden thought: what will the first scandal involving Kopimism’s leaders look like?)”

    Their followers will recognize the hypocrisy of an organization dedicated to complete information freedom that also requires encryption (preventing information freedom) of their own “virtual religious services”.

  • Steve D

    #4: “(Sudden thought: what will the first scandal involving Kopimism’s leaders look like?)”

    Their followers will recognize the hypocrisy of an organization dedicated to complete information freedom that also requires encryption (preventing information freedom) of their own “virtual religious services”.

  • #4 Kitty

    How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?

    The only distinction between “legitimate religions” and bogus ones (i.e., cults) is whether or not they are considered socially acceptable or “mainstream”. Sure, we can appeal to our Bible but other legitimate religions have magic books as well.

  • #4 Kitty

    How could courts distinguish between these bogus religions and legitimate ones?

    The only distinction between “legitimate religions” and bogus ones (i.e., cults) is whether or not they are considered socially acceptable or “mainstream”. Sure, we can appeal to our Bible but other legitimate religions have magic books as well.

  • Dan Kempin

    Antirecyclarionism:

    A religion wherein the practitioner believes that they are conscince bound to inform anyone who will listen that they do not feel conscience bound to recycle and furthermore that they resent the methods, whether high handed or condescending, to force recycling upon them.

    Adherents to this faith should be allowed religious protection from ludicrous recycling laws and from having their children indoctrinated in recycling via the public school system.

  • Dan Kempin

    Antirecyclarionism:

    A religion wherein the practitioner believes that they are conscince bound to inform anyone who will listen that they do not feel conscience bound to recycle and furthermore that they resent the methods, whether high handed or condescending, to force recycling upon them.

    Adherents to this faith should be allowed religious protection from ludicrous recycling laws and from having their children indoctrinated in recycling via the public school system.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article’s lede:

    A Swedish religion whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks…

    Admittedly, this is the journalist’s phrasing, and I’m too lazy to look up any actual Kopimist sites to see if that’s accurate, but still…

    One quick way to lay bare the actual adherence to this tenet is to insist on any and all login information from any Kopimist you encounter. Oh, and his credit card numbers (don’t forget the security code!) and SSN. And his mother’s maiden name. All that information is just yearning to be free!

    Because, see, this really isn’t about the problems of tired, huddled masses of data. It’s about people who don’t want to pay for things. And who, yes, would like to hide behind religious freedom.

    It does make me wonder about the creation of new religions, though. Every time I hear about a new one, I roll my eyes and sarcastically think to myself, “Oh, that‘ll be around in 20 years!” And yet, new religions do get created from time to time — the most recent “success” I can think of right now is Scientology. But then, both Scientology and Kopimism seem to share — to this cynic, at least — somewhat similar utilitarian aims. I just think it’s odd, is all.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article’s lede:

    A Swedish religion whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks…

    Admittedly, this is the journalist’s phrasing, and I’m too lazy to look up any actual Kopimist sites to see if that’s accurate, but still…

    One quick way to lay bare the actual adherence to this tenet is to insist on any and all login information from any Kopimist you encounter. Oh, and his credit card numbers (don’t forget the security code!) and SSN. And his mother’s maiden name. All that information is just yearning to be free!

    Because, see, this really isn’t about the problems of tired, huddled masses of data. It’s about people who don’t want to pay for things. And who, yes, would like to hide behind religious freedom.

    It does make me wonder about the creation of new religions, though. Every time I hear about a new one, I roll my eyes and sarcastically think to myself, “Oh, that‘ll be around in 20 years!” And yet, new religions do get created from time to time — the most recent “success” I can think of right now is Scientology. But then, both Scientology and Kopimism seem to share — to this cynic, at least — somewhat similar utilitarian aims. I just think it’s odd, is all.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    “Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. …,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism.

    I’m surprised Dr. Veith was able to copy that particular quote without smashing his keyboard into little bits. It makes my brain hurt. “Hey, everyone! Let’s try culture! I hear it helps you appreciate things differently and makes you feel better! Doesn’t that sound good?”

    According to its manifesto, private, closed-source software code and anti-piracy software are “comparable to slavery.”

    Ooh, ooh, anyone want to take a guess at the racial demographics among Kopimists? Anyone?

    Also, the Kopimist logo is kinda terrible. Most of the world’s religions may be works-righteous deceptions, but at least their logos were devised before the dawn of cheap computer graphics programs?

    “Data is what we are made of, data is what defines our life, and data is how we express ourselves,” says Carmean.

    Oh, we’re “made of” data, now? Great! So when you die, we’ll just restore you from a back-up copy we made. Unfortunately, the last full back-up we have is from when you were 13 and all pimply, but whatever, right? Actually, having typed that, I give it even odds that something like that will end up becoming the Kopimist parody — whether “sincere” or not — of the Christian resurrection story.

    Seriously, 20-somethings should not be allowed to start religions. This article is as much an indictment of modern education systems (cranking out naive pie-in-the-sky-ists) as it is this particular “religion”.

    That said, maybe we can kill two birds with one stone by suggesting that the Kopimists go after the Scientologists’ “sacred texts”, which are otherwise still protected by copyrights and trademarks — or at least they try to make it so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    “Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. …,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism.

    I’m surprised Dr. Veith was able to copy that particular quote without smashing his keyboard into little bits. It makes my brain hurt. “Hey, everyone! Let’s try culture! I hear it helps you appreciate things differently and makes you feel better! Doesn’t that sound good?”

    According to its manifesto, private, closed-source software code and anti-piracy software are “comparable to slavery.”

    Ooh, ooh, anyone want to take a guess at the racial demographics among Kopimists? Anyone?

    Also, the Kopimist logo is kinda terrible. Most of the world’s religions may be works-righteous deceptions, but at least their logos were devised before the dawn of cheap computer graphics programs?

    “Data is what we are made of, data is what defines our life, and data is how we express ourselves,” says Carmean.

    Oh, we’re “made of” data, now? Great! So when you die, we’ll just restore you from a back-up copy we made. Unfortunately, the last full back-up we have is from when you were 13 and all pimply, but whatever, right? Actually, having typed that, I give it even odds that something like that will end up becoming the Kopimist parody — whether “sincere” or not — of the Christian resurrection story.

    Seriously, 20-somethings should not be allowed to start religions. This article is as much an indictment of modern education systems (cranking out naive pie-in-the-sky-ists) as it is this particular “religion”.

    That said, maybe we can kill two birds with one stone by suggesting that the Kopimists go after the Scientologists’ “sacred texts”, which are otherwise still protected by copyrights and trademarks — or at least they try to make it so.

  • Tom Hering

    Dan @ 23, can I piggyback my Antitrashist religion on your Antirecyclarionism? I will not – I repeat, will not – allow the city I live in to force me to place garbage in bins, and then set those bins out on the curb for robo-trucks to empty. (They’ll be grabbing you and I with that arm next!) I’ve got a natural, God-given right to let garbage pile up sky-high in my yard.

    Yes, together, Dan, we can resist these fascist impositions! Hurrah!

  • Tom Hering

    Dan @ 23, can I piggyback my Antitrashist religion on your Antirecyclarionism? I will not – I repeat, will not – allow the city I live in to force me to place garbage in bins, and then set those bins out on the curb for robo-trucks to empty. (They’ll be grabbing you and I with that arm next!) I’ve got a natural, God-given right to let garbage pile up sky-high in my yard.

    Yes, together, Dan, we can resist these fascist impositions! Hurrah!

  • D’Arcy

    Regardless of whether this fad earns religious recognition, under the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith still applies: First Amendment religious liberty does not prevent the government from enforcing a law of general applicability, even if it has the incidental effect of burdening religious exercise.

    So long as copyright protections apply generally, the Kopimists will be subject to them.

  • D’Arcy

    Regardless of whether this fad earns religious recognition, under the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith still applies: First Amendment religious liberty does not prevent the government from enforcing a law of general applicability, even if it has the incidental effect of burdening religious exercise.

    So long as copyright protections apply generally, the Kopimists will be subject to them.

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