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File-sharing recognized as a religion in Sweden

TT/The Local/jl · 5 Jan 2012, 10:58

Published: 05 Jan 2012 10:58 GMT+01:00

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"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."

Story continues below…

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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TT/The Local/jl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:36 January 5, 2012 by Svensksmith
If I draw a cartoon of Steve Jobs on the body of a dog, will someone try to kill me?
13:01 January 5, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
Is there no regulation in Sweden that prevents the forming of a so-called religion whose sole purpose is to promote crime?
13:43 January 5, 2012 by Keith #5083

Newton will probably drop an apple on your head and we can all call it divine intervention.


No I don't think the Catholic Church is banned in Sweden, well at least PedoBear doesn't think so.
13:54 January 5, 2012 by occassional
Bless 'em.
13:59 January 5, 2012 by swenrika
@Keith #5083 - Brilliant... and nope, don't think the Catholics are .. LOL....
14:02 January 5, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
@ Keith #5083

LOL. Good one. Sadly the Catholics are often guilty of being pedophiles.

And they may not steel a lot f music files, but many centuries of their stolen gold and art treasures are now on permanent display at the Vatican.
14:22 January 5, 2012 by DeLarge

File sharing is not a crime, unless the material is not your own, AND copyrighted. Of course, the RIAA, MPAA, etc would have you believe otherwise.
14:26 January 5, 2012 by Opinionfool

Scientology? Is that registered in Sweden? Germany banned it. But then the Scientologists (monetary) crime is to fleece the adherents.

In these days of sociological law what is crime anyway? In the opinion of others the real crime is conducted by the supposed owners of the material.
15:26 January 5, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
@ Delarge

The final two lines of the article reminds sharers that their activities are illegal, generally speaking, for the following reasons, which you should in fact be in agreement with, based on your post:

>99% of people 'share' files that that have not paid for themselves

>99% of people 'share' material that IS copyrighted

The onus of proof is on the companies, or nations that agree to enforcement treaties on copyrighted material, and contrary to what most people believe, it is not that difficult for the police to determine what each of us is doing on our home computers where internet activity is concerned, if they are given the mandate to do that.


Agree that, as Keith pointed out earlier, there is a lot of crime going on in a lot of religions. I know very little about Scientology but from what I understand they sell self help books and charge you money for them, so are thus guilty of the 'crime' of selling crummy books for money, but I am not surprise to learn from you that they have been banned for fleecing people for large amounts of money.

Every US TV evangelist should be thrown behind bars if fleecing adherents was deemed criminal activity, which maybe it should be.

I guess my first post (#2) was simply my way to say that I am not a fan of music and movie theft, and personally prefer to actually pay a modest fee to rent movies, watch TV, use spotify, go to the library, buy paperbacks, etc.. etc..
15:58 January 5, 2012 by eppie

You know that by paying for music you are actually supporting artist to buy cocaine or other drugs, and thus supporting a criminal activity. (or do you only listen to music and watch movies from non drugs using artists?).

Seriously, the problem with the business model for music and movies is that you pay, and even if what you get is crap (which it most of the time is) you don't get your money back......just like with any other normal product.

Even though illegal file sharing is not the best way to go (because it is not legal), the cure is far worse than the crime.

The crime affects the entertainment industry (a group of people adding nothing of importance to this world and get far to much money for that), the cure affects basic rules of privacy. Governments in most countries can invade the privacy of internet users more than they can do with suspected murderers or drug dealers.

The fact that a government spends valuable resources on fighting file-sharing is an absolute outrage,
16:52 January 5, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy

What baffles me is that most people are in love with their favorite bands, and the bands love their fans, but as far as I know almost NO bands set up their own website to sell music online far less expensively than the big record labels do.

This may be because:

1) The bands are complicit, because they want extra revenue from the production and distribution of hard copies of their work, sold as CD's and DVD's

2) They actually like the payments they receive from the big labels, as well as the marketing and legal services they provide

2) The bands are music people and not tech geeks, so they do not know how easy it is to set up a website to sell their music

We have almost no control over the music legacy of long dead artists like Sinatra and Elvis (although we could appeal to their estates), but the real question for me is the living bands, especially any that pretend to be anti-establishment, which is almost all of them. Why not deal with all of your fans directly via the internet? And possibly hire a few people to help you organize a tour.

I am equally baffled that we give >50,000 SEK to real estate agent for what appears to be only one day's work to sell a 2 million SEK apartment.

The internet was supposed to eliminate the money grabbing middle men. Why has this not happened in movies and real estate?
17:04 January 5, 2012 by Opinionfool

"I guess my first post (#2) was simply my way to say that I am not a fan of music and movie theft, and personally prefer to actually pay a modest fee to rent movies, watch TV, use spotify, go to the library, buy paperbacks, etc.. etc.."

You're making an assumption there as to who are the thieves in this scenario. With the pittance that goes to the artist from a regular sale one could (and I do) argue that the media corporations are thieves. That's my way of saying I think your assertion is simplistic.

By the way, if you were in England right now you would find that borrowing a library book has gotten a lot harder since the Conservative party came to power. Many local library services are retrenching and closing their facilities down because of central government cuts.
17:55 January 5, 2012 by dendrobates
This must be some joke!
17:56 January 5, 2012 by Keith #5083
Some very interesting points in this discussion. I also am not in favor of 'pirating' but feel some sympathy that this is exactly what the 'industry' is doing with the public. A cd costs about Kr 3. Printing,packaging,etc. maybe another Kr 3. Ok, then there's distribution and the various profit slices...BUT isn't kr.150 just taking that a little too far. Sell em for kr 50 and no-one would bother pirating!!!

(Oh, I know about the costs as I was producing - legally - dvd's for an alternative health org that had paid over kr 100k to have a film made. I was duplicating for the owners of the film).

Otherwise I totally agree with first para #12
18:10 January 5, 2012 by Coaxen
Maybe the copyright mafia should be dealt with, instead of the huge population of people sharing files. I mean really - copyright laws were created three centuries ago as a privatization of CENSORSHIP. Huge corporations buy politicians and adjust the laws to fit their agenda. And they somehow convince people that they are not the ones at fault.
18:11 January 5, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Keith #5083 and


As stated in post 11, the bands could sell directly to fans but they do not, and could even comission CD printing runs privately, and then sell to their fans for reasonable prices if it was very important to them and their fans, so the blame can not necessarily can not entirely assigned to the big name music distributors.

An interesting example occured several years ago when Steven King published a novel online. He published it one chapter at a time and said he would continue to do so as long as at least half the downloaders paid for the latest chapter as each one was released. By chapter 3 he ways getting payment from far less than 50% of downloaders, so he said forget it, and went the traditional print route.

For every person willing to pay a fair price, there is more than one gymnasium aged student (either in actual age, or moral age) who will rip off the creator and the distribution company in any way he or she can, even if the asking price is very low.
19:09 January 5, 2012 by james_g
By the logic of the file-sharers, it would be fine for me to walk into (say) a konditori, pick up a tasty looking pastry, eat it, and walk out (i.e. without paying). What's the difference? Except I would have had to have made the effort to make my way into town rather than staying in front of my computer...
19:21 January 5, 2012 by tgolan
The RIAA, MPAA are monopoly , Mafia organizations
20:18 January 5, 2012 by swedejane

Not really. If I share a digital file of any kind it doesn't disappear from my computer, it's simply copied. So, to use your analogy, it would be like walking into the konditori, looking at the pastry, going back home and creating a copy of it in my home. I haven't physically removed anything from the store and I've used all my own resources to create the copy. Further, no one was ever up in arms when we made mix tapes back in the day. That was considered fair use. As long as someone isn't selling music they've shared, why isn't that fair use?
00:29 January 6, 2012 by Opinionfool

A few years ago the BBC conducted a survey of music downloaders. Those who were prolific downloaders turned out also to be those who bought CDs of the music they continued to listen to. The English music corporates denied the research because it invalidated their basic (but unproven) assumptions. To the downloaders their activities were no different to listening to the radio and then going to a shop to buy the discs.

The media corporations and their trade bodies have been too lazy to keep up with technology; they got it wrong with tape cassettes, they got it wrong with video cassettes, they got it wrong with write-able CDs, they got it wrong with DVVDs, they got it wrong with MP3 players. Basically they've just got it wrong and prefered to put their heads in the sand and hope that it all goes away. When that doesn't work they climb back into their prams and throw their toys out. They don't want the present system to change; it would require them to do some work. Much easier to blame the decline in music sales on downloaders rather than admit they themselves haven't a clue about the music business.
05:25 January 6, 2012 by jimfromcanada
If you want to see religion, come to Canada where there are probably more people in hockey arenas on Sunday morning than at church.

By the way, congratulations to the Swedish Junior hockey team for winning the gold medal at the World Junior hockey championship by beating Russia 1-0 in overtime.
09:45 January 6, 2012 by David Warren
Reality takes another dive.
10:22 January 6, 2012 by DeLarge

The final two lines of the article are factually incorrect. File sharing is not illegal per se, in Sweden or anywhere else. Ergo your original post, that this religion exists solely to promote a criminal activity, is also incorrect.

99% of file sharers may do so illegally (though I'm guessing you made those figures up, without evidence to support them), but this religion may well represent the other 1%. Without *proof*, I never make accusations of criminal behaviour.
10:33 January 6, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ swedjane #19

@ Opinionfool #20

The argument that the pastry is not actually removed from the shelf, you are only making a copy of it, is true, but with this argument one could quickly annihilate the entire computer software industry, whose products can also be illegally ripped and shared. Computer software, like music, is a 'value-added' quantity, whose selling price does not reflect the distribution cost, but it employs roughly half of the high tech workers in developped world. This is a basic fact of the information age economy.

The music executives are no more guilty of 'not keeping up with the technology' than Microsoft executives, who employ tens of thousands of computer experts, and who are making much of the technology. Microsoft is also unable to prevent all theft of their products.

And the Music executives are not lazy, they are doing what they can to enforce copyright protection through international treaties (that also protect Swedish artists in the US). The recent high profile cases in Sweden of teenagers who downloaded 1000's of movies are test cases that they are prosecuting to remind people that, with the cooperation of the police, they can identify the worst offenders (Do you think that16 year was caught because he simply turned himself over to the police?). With the police's help, they could eventually turn their attention to less active thieves, which could affect a lot more than a handful of 16 year olds.

The truth is that none of us actually 'need' music files, like needing food or water, we desire the convenience of playing a piece of music when we feel like it, which does not automatically mean that we should all be legally entitled to copy the music files for free, without the permission of the artists and their distributors, even if obtaining them for free from an unauthorized source is not a very difficult procedure.
12:53 January 6, 2012 by Keith #5083

You are correct, the role models are not exactly exemplary are they. Quite why you pick out Microsoft I'm not sure, but Apple seems to be doing quite well in losing court cases for having infringed other's patent/property rights.

So I guess the message,whether from presidential candidates (USA,France,etc) to software companies, whatever - is the new religion is get it,use it, argue about it afterwards!

That pretty well fits with the 10 commandments, originally written in the Code of Hammurabi some 300 years before Moses downloaded it:or other sections of religious literature posing as the fundamentals of our societies but actually copied from ,for example, Egyptian sources.

Seems perfectly fitting that file copying being listed as a religion,for that is what many religions have actually done for thousands of years.
13:10 January 6, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Keith (#25)

Not sure if I was clear, but I meant that Microsoft has been unable to prevent the theft of Microsoft products (not difficult to get a rippled version of Windows for example), even though Microsoft employs thousands of computer and internet experts.

So in that regard it makes no sense to me to accuse music executives of not keeping up with the technology, if the people who are creating the technology (such as Microsoft's software engineers) are also not able to prevent the theft of some of their products.

Other business models like Spotify have made accessing a wide variety of music anytime more affordable, and hopefully more bands will start to market directly to their fans, so that we can all enjoy music on demand for as small a cost as possible.

Interesting point about Moses. Did not know he plagiarised the commandments.
13:55 January 6, 2012 by Opinionfool
@Reason abd Realism

"And the Music executives are not lazy, they are doing what they can to enforce copyright protection through international treaties (that also protect Swedish artists in the US)."

Of course, they are lazy. Those treaties you so casually cite are framed in their favor and are based on technological naïvety The two most important peoples in the situation (the artist and the consumer) are ridden over rough shod by those executives greed and complacency. The treaties need to be reframed in an equitable fashion that recognises the needs of the artist (the real producer) and the wants of the listener (the real consumer) with regard to current and possible technology. What is *not* needed is the sort of tweaking that execs demand so their status quo remains and they are untroubled.
16:11 January 6, 2012 by swedejane
@Reason abd Realism

You make a good point. The crux of the issue is that companies, even "technology" companies are still mostly vested in the old model of packaging and distribution. When the cost of distribution is nearly $0 and you have infinite shelf space, then one should explore other models. Apple primarily uses software to sell computers, which is why they price they're quite good software packages very cheap. They also don't sell them on CDs anymore in the store, you have to download them from the app store. I doubt Microsoft will ever figure that one out. With music, Spotify is admittedly on the right track. I think that business is an example of the customers arriving before the corporate executives have, so it may falter yet from all of the dysfunctional licensing agreements they've forced Spotify into. Google Docs is another Software as a Service (SaaS) model worth mentioning. Although not as feature rich as Word or Pages, it's quite good for many uses. And you don't download it, you simply access it.

If your business is moving bits around, whether they be music, video, or applications, then you can't simply rely on the frivolous use of any physical medium (e.g., CD) to act as a firewall for your entire business, especially when you begin treating all of your customers as criminals. You also can't assume your customers will "do the right thing" and bend over so you can gouge them. The concept of selling music is a historical anomaly. As someone who has played in bands, recorded, and toured and now works in software I hope to see the complete erasure of the 20th century music business model.
16:30 January 6, 2012 by Opinionfool
@Reason abd Realism #26

"Not sure if I was clear, but I meant that Microsoft has been unable to prevent the theft of Microsoft products (not difficult to get a rippled version of Windows for example), even though Microsoft employs thousands of computer and internet experts."

You were very clear and very wrong. Microsoft may employ thousands of people but they are not all experts. Indeed it might be argued that what expertise they have has been bought in; examples, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator (one of their most successful products) was a buy in, Visio was a buy in.

Have you ever seen a call graph for Windows? Compared it to similar graphs for better operating systems? In otherwords the flow of control through the operating systems themselves. With Windows its like the proverbial bowl of spaghetti for other operating systems the flow is straight and simple (as it should be). No wonder that Windows 7 was so late to market (being temporarily superceded by 95SE, Vista --- a product that even Microsoft said not to use, XP). It's a can of worms.

The implication, in your comment, that Microsoft are great at security is equivalent to saying that the couple with the 53 cats are good at keeping pets (http://www.thelocal.se/38286/20120105/ ) or that Josef Frietzl is the model father.

As to Microsoft's ability to forestall security breaches ... get real it's the security chasms in WIndows, Office and Internet Explorer that allows spammers and crackers to reek havoc on the Internet and to steal personal data and financial information belonging to millions.

Using Microsoft as a n exmple of a technology company who can't defeat security breaches is a self-defeating argument.
17:33 January 6, 2012 by Roy E
And yet there still are some people who wonder why contemporary Sweden is not taken seriously.
13:05 January 7, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Opinionfool #29

I'm no fan of Microsoft myself, but are you suggesting that because Microsoft is lousy at security (according to your assessment), then they should not be allowed to do anything when their software is stolen?

Even if they (and the music companies) are lousy at it, they are still entitled to protections under laws and treaties that govern commerce and crime.

The fact that the music companies are using legal channels to enforce copyright protection may be annoying to many people, but the primary responsibility is on the individual to not commit theft in the first place.
15:23 January 7, 2012 by Opinionfool
@Reason abd Realism

On Microsoft, no I'm not saying that because they can't deal with the security in their products (and they can't) that they shouldn't "protect" their products. Though I would say that a company whose products are so full of security chasms deserves all they get. What I am saying is that your analogy doesn't hold because they can't.

On the law, seeking protection through out-moded laws, which take no regard for modern technology, is simply stupid. That's why I say the media execs are lazy. The laws need drastic reform. Maybe even total repeal. They should be rewritten to give equal (even preferrential) consideration of the artists and of the consumers. They should not be stacked in favor of the distributors; especially not stacked in favor of distributors who can't get their corporate act together to deal with new and replacement technologies.
16:47 January 7, 2012 by irridium
Did Jesus not take two fish and five loaves and feed five thousand people?

File sharing and religion share many moral values. Sharing one's possessions with others in need, seeding more files than leeching, these are the pillars of humanity.
19:05 January 7, 2012 by Opinionfool

Yes he did but (depending on how you read the text) those belonged to his disciples.

More appropriate here would be the account in Matteus 17:24-27 (Matthew chapter 17 verses 24 to 27) where he magics up a coin in the mouth of a fish in order to pay temple tax.
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