Legal Ramifications Of File-Sharing Now Being Religious Worship

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.


Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. […] article: Legal ramifications of file-sharing being religious worship You've read the whole article. Why not subscribe to the RSS flow using your favorite reader, or […]

  2. Travis McCrea

    I am willing to invest in / contribute to / get services from a hosting company in Sweden which will recognize the religious right of Kopimism.

    It would only be right of us to create a hosting platform which would be an ordained place of worship, which people could donate to, to use the services of it.

  3. jeffer

    Maybe this is a historical singularity, just like Martin Luther and Jean Calvin who also presented new uncompromising ideological and metaphysical axioms, attacking a rigid inflexible Catholic Church, eventually destroying its religious hegemony in Europe.

    A “nova doctrina” at the right time may change the world forever 🙂

  4. Scary Devil Monastery

    There is one caveat I would like to bring to this table at once – the secrets of the confessional are, well, secret. Much like patient-doctor confidentiality. It assumes from the outset the stringent criteria that no other people but a select few parties are involved in the exchange.

    A tracker/hub operation however, would, translated into religious terms, be more like an official communion or mass. You can’t consider such an act of worship “secret” or falling under confessional rules. There is no rule of law to my knowledge barring any interested party from standing in a corner and taking notes unobtrusively. Nor can you legally prevent said parties from writing down the license plates of the cars belonging to members of the congregation (which is where we find the usual tracker espionage attempts performed by copyright enforcement ngo’s).

    Of far more vital interest is the comparison between legal exemptions – such as why circumcision of infants is allowed under law where in any western society the normal response of an attempted body alteration of a newborn child would be considered anathema.
    If religion is a valid excuse for maiming infants who have no say or choice in the procedure, then how can there be a case for the law not allowing individuals to share and distribute mere information which is by all accepted evidence, completely victimless?

    Either the loophole for circumcision should not exist, or file sharing does have an excellent case for legal exemption, assuming it can be brought to the body politic. Especially given that filesharers massively outnumber adherents of both Judaism and Islam in Sweden, for example.

    And that in itself is good. Like the advent of pastafarianism, kopimism in itself will raise the public awareness both of copyright fundamentalism and religious practices in general. Worst case, some people will start thinking about why we as people, as soon as religion is concerned, happily set aside the concept of “Likhet inför Lagen”.

    For my part I would say that having Kopimism be recognized as a religion is more of a moral stance and a way of raising the issue to more fundamental philosophical issues than the usual savage braying of “Copying is THEFT, Baaaah!” we keep hearing from information control freaks and vested interests.

    This is all good.

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      Addendum to above: In no way am i harping on Islam or Judaism specifically in the examples above. I’m merely stating two easily grabbed examples of where religion has not only granted exemptions to the common law of the land but also has nested these exemptions as part of the accepted paradigm.

      Such exemptions being for most people completely unacceptable outside of a religious context. Imagine, put in contrast to the rite of circumcision, that a parent would insist of having their baby tattooed, pierced, or fitted with skull-deforming molds like the ancient Maya did. I know of very few people who wouldn’t literally explode at the thought.

      In the same way the christian mass is a religiously invoked exemption to the common “accepted” paradigm. You actually engage in symbolic cannibalism where you consume, according to the dogma of transsubstantiation, the literal flesh and blood of your saviour and are thus placed in a state of grace. That one always disturbed me.

    2. Anonymous

      Just view the tracker/hub as a church, where many confessions are going on. Problem solved

  5. Fredrik

    It is easy to think that any new religion is a joke, as most of the religions through history are already jokes. Think of the rather popular religion that comes with a book from an authority that says that you must stone children if they don’t obey their parents. Now there finally is a serious religion in the soup of jocular religions, and it will take some time for people to understand it.

    I think this new religion is good to have for a particular reason. Previously we have been talking about that sharing information is good because it has practical benefits, such as that it helps people in suppressing regimes (Egypt, Iran, USA, Denmark, France, Sweden…) and that it is good for the economy of the society. While those practical reasons are very good, they miss the point. People don’t share because of the practical benefits for society. People share because it is in their nature to do so.

    I believe that we can’t think clearly about things we don’t have words or concepts for. This religion is a concept that enables us to think of sharing and remixing as holy and explain to people that it is holy to us. The remix part of the message is very welcome. It explains that we like the creativity of remixed information rather than the canonical information that corporations and other religions want to sell us. When missionaries of other religions talk to us, we are no longer uncertain of what to think about them. We can clearly say to them for example that their beliefs are based on canonical information from an authority, and that we believe that remixed information is better and that their should not be authorities whose information is considered canonical.

  6. Anna

    Maybe Manning can be saved if he converts to this religion? If they don’t understand the importance of what he shared with the world, maybe they can understand his “religion”…

    1. Autolykos

      He does not need to be a member to become one of our first prophets (and if he’s unlucky enough also our first martyr).

  7. PiratGurra

    Wait a second… This means that religious people in the US will most probably start being persecuted for their beliefs by the state. The country which held freedom of religion as one of the highest values for so long… That once liberal country – where quite some of my forefathers have emigrated to in hope of not having to be persecuted for their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) any more…

    That once so awesome country – once clearly best in the world in many aspects – seems to lose every important value after another. And will now probably lose one more – freedom of religion…

    It’s so sad :'(

  8. AeliusBlythe

    Well, on he upside, isn’t the United States a breeding ground for “out-there” religious claims?? Perhaps we will be the next place for the Missionary Church of Kopimism can flourish. It would not be half as bad as what is flourishing there now . . .

    1. Fredrik

      Churches in the United States flourish because they are tax-exempt corporations that spread the belief that people must pay money to an authority in the church. Kopimism is the opposite. It spreads the belief that there is no authority to pay. It would be very nice anyway if Kopimism would pick up popularity in the US.

      Kopimism would have one additional benefit there. The general opinion in the US is that people who are not affiliated with a religion are evil. By establishing our beliefs as a religion we can gain respect.

      Citing “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins:
      “A Gallup poll taken in 1999 asked Americans whether they would vote for an otherwise well-qualified person who was a woman (96 per cent would), Roman Catholic (94 per cent would), Jew (92 per cent), black (92 per cent), Mormon (79 per cent), homosexual (79 per cent) or atheist (49 per cent).”

      Actually Kopimism (as well as Buddhism) is atheistic, but many people seem to think that atheists are only people without religion.

      1. Scary Devil Monastery

        “Actually Kopimism (as well as Buddhism) is atheistic…”

        I’m not sure I agree there. The main difference between a “religion” and a “philosophy” is the idea that some form of higher power or principle is keeping track of your deeds. In that respect, you could make a case that both Kopimism and Buddhism are faith-based in that they rely in the trust of a principle which provides indirect rewards for both believers and society at large.

        Kopimism would be more appropriately named as either a subsect of an existing religion or an agnostic philosophy in itself. Buddhism on the other hand has the premise that becoming enlightened enough triggers apotheosis and you become God.

        1. Fredrik

          You are right that Kopimism by itself is agnostic towards deities. I was referring to Kopimism as atheistic in the sense that it does not suggest the existence of any particular deities. I think the agnostic aspect of Kopimism is interesting, as it may lead to enlightenment by remixing beliefs in the divine 🙂

  9. Rev. Smith

    As Scary Devil, claims above, it is probably hard to call a downloading or meetings in hubs for confession and grant the rights by the law. However, what they/we can do is to claim religious prosecution when IFPI et al write about file sharing, further there might also be other cases of hate crimes against this new religion in other circumstances as well… And this my friends would me much more fun! >:D

  10. […] الدين لتصرف ما ليس سبب تبرئة أمام المحاكم، لكن وكما يوضح مؤسس حزب القراصنة، فإن أحد الفوائد أن من تسجلهم الكنيسة الجديدة مبشرين […]

  11. gooks

    Well then we can all agree – the argument that file sharing doesn’t harm content-producers is a religious one and not one based on fact.

    1. piratgurra

      Well factories “harmed” the guilds once… That was no excuse for trying to stop the industrial revolution. Likewise today, current copyright industries may be harmed by file sharing (file factories) today. That’s no excuse for trying to stop the internet revolution.

    2. Scary Devil Monastery

      Mot quite. There have been numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies on the effects of file sharing. they all agree immutably on one fact – The hypothesis that file sharing causes harm to legal sales is false.

      That’s what in scientific terms is called a direct condemnation. With more solid and empirical evidence than we have for the current theories of gravity.

      On top of that, however, we have taken established fact and built a religion around it. Building a philosophical framework around a factual foundation certainly beats building a dogma around a stack of make-believe wishful thinking as is done by, for example, Ifpi.

  12. L’Església Missionera Copimista « Anotacions al marge

    […] va veure desbordada per les visites), la història serà llarga, apassionant, complicada i, probablement, […]

  13. Professor

    “Well then we can all agree – the argument that file sharing doesn’t harm content-producers is a religious one and not one based on fact.”

    Not at all.

    Researchers, which by the way performs scientific research mind you, have after countless studies not found any direct links between file sharing and the alleged damages caused in the copyright industry.

    On the contrary, their studies have shown that file sharers belong to group of people laying out most money on culture, that the industries themselves are growing, and that artists nowadays recieves a bigger share of the total revenue. On top of that we see that hollywood movies continues to break records, that SF Bio in Sweden had it’s record year during a perod of heavy file sharing, that high profile people from game producing companies is beginning to declare internet piracy as a non-problem, and much more.

    What’s evident here is that there is no evidence at all to support the ill-based claims from big, lazy, and spoiled copyright organisations claiming that file sharing would be a big problem that requires extensive attacks on human rights to solve, and all this just in order to protect their own precious monopolies.

  14. […] […]

  15. […] of Kopimism has no requirements for its congregation to break the law, but Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge does raise an interesting issue – that of religious […]

  16. […] of Kopimism has no requirements for its congregation to break the law, but Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge does raise an interesting issue – that of religious […]

  17. […] of Kopimism has no requirements for its congregation to break the law, but Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge does raise an interesting issue – that of religious […]

  18. […] they’ve even taken CTL + C and CTL + V as sacred symbols. After three unsucessful attempts at legal recongnition the Kopimists fought hard in Swedish courts for two long years before emerging victorious at the […]

  19. […] of Kopimism has no requirements for its congregation to break the law, but Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge does raise an interesting issue – that of religious […]

  20. Mange

    3000 members in Missionary Church of Kopimism. 3000 members in Young Pirate (the pirate party youth wing). Just a strange coincidence, or collective enrollment?

  21. […] of Kopimism has no requirements for its congregation to break the law, but Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge does raise an interesting issue – that of religious […]

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