Internet freedom has won the day in Sweden as the religion The Missionary Church of Kopimism has been officially recognized by the government, instigating a new discussion on legality, spirituality, and the shaky fate of our greatest collective achievement to date: the Net.
“The copying and sharing of information shouldn’t be illegal, but it should be encouraged,” said 20-year old philosophy student and Kopimism founder Isak Gerson. Gerson here has tapped into both the technological zeitgeist and his peer group. Other Digital Natives can no doubt relate to this notion extremely well, as a huge portion of their lives have been nurtured and matured in the nest of information technology–and decimating it.
Since its inception, the Internet has utterly changed society. Hours and hours a day are spent online. By 2015 the average US household is expected to consume 100 gigabytes of data per month, and yet the Internet remains to be estimated of “weighing” somewhere between a grain of salt and a strawberry. Sherry Turkle, Nicholas Carr, Douglas Rushkoff, Amber Case, and others have pointed out that the net has completely shifted not only how we behave in the world but our very personas as well; as Turkle pointed out, amongst Digital Natives, the mantra seems to be “I share therefore I am.” Alongside the UN’s recognition of Internet access as a universal human right, it’s no surprise that many are reinterpreting the net as not a pastime, nor as a necessity, but as something fundamental, even spiritual to the human enterprise. Even those of an atheistic persuasion could no doubt view that knowledge is essentially sacred–if central to what makes us human. Indeed the Internet, computers, information, and sharing has arguably become a sacred and devotional activity–and unconsciously, probably almost Internet users are Kopimist in one form or another whether they know it or not, making it an apropos new religion for 2012.
“The community of Kopimi requires no formal membership,” Gerson writes. “You just have to feel a calling to worship what is the holiest of the holiest, information and copy.” The question has become, “is copyright obsolete?” David Shields’ manifesto “Reality Hunger”, Phil RetroSpecter and Girl Talk’s remix genres, hip hop, the visionary arguments of Lawrence Lessig, are all pushing the conversation towards: yes, it’s time to outgrow this old school modality. While legislation like SOPA, is attempting to hinder what could be argued as a natural course of evolution for information-transmitting animals. One might even argue that the human mind is similar in many respects to the sacred symbols of Kopimi: “ctrl+c & ctrl+v.” Though it does appear to be a difficult conversation, if we look to nature, from genes to memes, one of the names of the game in this particular cosmos seems to fit very well with the Kopimi commandment of “copy and seed.”