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File-sharing recognized as a religion in Sweden

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File-sharing recognized as a religion in Sweden
10:58 CET+01:00
Zealous file-sharing enthusiasts in Sweden can now take their beliefs to the next level and join the Church of Kopimism, as the widespread practice has now officially been recognized as a religion.

"It is a huge relief," missionary director for the church and philosophy student, Isak Gerson, told The Local on Thursday.

For about a year the Kopimists of Sweden, stemming from the Young Pirates, the youth movement of the controversial Pirate Party, have struggled to get their faith to be officially recognized as a religion, but have been forced to face repeated rejection.

In July, after the Kopimists most recent let-down, Gerson said that he was disappointed with Sweden's Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (Kammarkollegiet) for rejecting the attempt to get their activities registered as a religious faith, as he had done everything in his power to adhere to the agency's regulations.

"It feels bitter. Last time we applied there were valid reasons for their rejection. We've had a dialogue with them since then, and sent in a new application with changes based on this dialogue," he told The Local at the time.

But now, after their third application was successful, the self-proclaimed pirates can finally pray to their own holiness.

"Now we will focus on performing our religious practices and to maintain good contact with our members," Gerson said.

The number of members of the Church of Kopimism is about 3,000, and Gerson said he has seen a significant increase in the last couple of days since the decision became public.

"This decision has strengthened us a lot and finally we can move on," said Gerson to The Local.

The Church derived its name from the online movement "Kopimi" (read as "copyme"), in which users are invited to add a "Kopimi" logo to their website if they are willing to have their information copied by others.

Gerson, firm in his beliefs, encourages all to keep on sharing.

“There's still a legal stigma around copying for many. A lot of people still worry about going to jail when copying and remixing. I hope in the name of Kopimi that this will change,” he told website torrentfreak.com.

It is not up to authorities to have an opinion on the beliefs of a religious community in Sweden, Bertil Kallner at the Financial and Administrative Services Agency told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"A religious community could basically be anything," he said.

"What's important is that it is a community for religious activities."

The ability to register a faith in Sweden became possible as the Swedish church and state were separated in 2000.

The recognition of a religious faith is today not so different from registering and protecting a company name.

But even after joining into the new church, new acolytes should take heed as their act of worship of choice, namely file-sharing, will remain illegal in Sweden.

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