With yesterday’s story of the Missionary Church of Kopimism being an approved religion in Sweden, one wonders what the practical effects are. It’s not like religion gives immunity from the law. Oh, wait, it is like that. But anyway.
Before I go into the legal ramifications, I have realized that some people think this religion is a joke. Get that idea out of your head immediately. It makes perfect sense to observe that all life comes from copying and remixing of previous life, and to therefore hold copying and remixing as higher, sacred acts worthy of reverence. (In any case, it makes a lot more sense today than most millennia-old religions and their explanations of life, without going into graphic but inconsiderate detail.) People who have observed that copying and remixing is the basis for all our being deserve every bit of respect for considering those acts connected with life itself.
First, to set our frame of reference for tolerated religious exceptions, some people justify carving into and permanently mutilating other people’s genitals with sharp instruments by justification of “religion”. Helpless newborn people, even. This is socially accepted today, and therefore becomes sort of a benchmark of just how egregious religious exceptions from the law are contemporarily permitted.
I’ve seen some news articles claim that the registration as official religion merely reserves the name in the list of official religions. This is legally ignorant. While we observe from the example above that most religious exceptions to law that violate human rights are rooted in tradition – meaning that by definition, you don’t get a new exception for a new religion – there are other legal ramifications.
Would you be able to claim in a court that you should not be held liable for the act proven by the evidence in front of the court, because this act was your religion? No. No, you wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t, under any circumstance. But there is a step ahead of that scenario, which changes with religion status. There is the issue of going as far as to court.
Specifically, there is the issue of confession.
Conversations of preachers of official religions acting on official duty are privileged conversations, meaning they can’t be eavesdropped on or forced as evidence; a priest can even go to jail for inadvertently disclosing something that was said under the privileged conversation of confession. In this case of this religion, the preachers are defined as the ones facilitating holy copying (and remixing). Translated to nerdspeak, that means the communications between operators of trackers/hubs and the people who partake in the sacrament of copying now carries confessional status, by and large making it illegal and impossible to collect as evidence in a trial.
That brings a whole boatload of interesting legal ramifications with regards to evidence collection trying to persecute the worshipers of holy copying and remixing, doesn’t it?
I’m sure there are other ramifications, but this is the obvious one I can think of off the top of my head. Also, for more philosophy around the sanctity of copying and remixing, don’t miss Nicholas Miles reflecting eloquently on the subject:
Far from being an excuse from filesharing, it is an endorsement of friendship and sociable nature as virtues to be held in higher esteem than fame, fortune, beauty, or ”success”. Copying is a social act, you see, as copying information one has for one’s own sake would be meaningless. By sanctifying copying as an act, Kopimism elevates the exchange of knowledge, opinions, and culture – the fundaments of social interaction – of paramount admirability. In so doing, it invokes concepts traceable to the philosophies of antiquity. … By invoking such ideals of so dignified origins, Kopimism sets itself beyond the merely political ideal of a free internet, and affirms instead the metaphysical importance of the proliferation of information among people as a supremely social act, and therefore a supremely meaningful act.