SHARING IN SPIRIT
KOPIMISM ANDTHE DIGITAL EUCHARIST
Aram Sinnreich	

Rutgers University	

School of Communication & Inform...
WHAT IS KOPIMISM?
KOPIMISM’S FAMILYTREE
2001
2003
2003
Pirate Party	

2006
Kopimism	

~2010
SOPHISTRY?
NnEeTt


SsEeCcRrEeTt
Our words shall, simultaneously, sound as
foolishness upon deaf ears and lovely
caresses to those who see a...
SCAM?
“This story . . . has
hoax written all over it.
Let’s be clear here. This
is a religion designed
to circumvent pirac...
MORAL PRECEPTS
1. Information is sacred
“In ways and for reasons that
remain to be explored, the
ribosomes appeared, who
c...
MORAL PRECEPTS
3. Copymixing > Copying
“Copymixing is a sacred kind of
copying, moreso than the
perfect, digital copying, ...
ETHICAL PARAMETERS
““I think personal information are
NOT part of koppimism . . . to be
right, if are some data private,
t...
DOCTRINAL LINEAGE:	

NORSE MYTHOLOGY
Well-being I won	

And wisdom too.	

I grew and took joy in my growth:

From a word t...
DOCTRINAL LINEAGE:

MONASTIC CHRISTIANITY
“You who will transcribe this
book, I charge you, in the
name of our Lord Jesus ...
DOCTRINAL LINEAGE:

LOGOS THEOLOGY
“In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was
with God and the Word was
God”	

!
- J...
GERSON’S EUCHARIST
Holy Communion is the “first step
in building a radical Christian identity
against individualism”	

!
“T...
CONCLUSION
“You who will transcribe this book, I
charge you, in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ … compare what you
have ...
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Sharing in Spirit: Kopimism and the Digital Eucharist

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Presented at International Communication Association annual Conference, May 22, 2014:

In April, 2012, in a ceremony officiated by an “ops” wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and wielding a talking laptop, the first Kopimist wedding was performed. It marked a significant milestone for this rapidly growing religion, founded in 2010 by a Swedish philosophy student named Isak Gerson and officially recognized by Sweden less than two years later. The religion is based on the principals that copying, disseminating and reconfiguring information are not only ethically right, but are in themselves “sacred” acts of devotion. Kopimist philosophy also holds that “the internet is holy” and that “code is law” (a phrase copied from legal scholar Lawrence Lessig).

Kopimism has already raised some interesting questions and debates in both legal and religious circles. Some have grumbled that the Kopimists are simply a bunch of “pirates” cleverly using religious protection to shield them from liability for copyright infringement. Others have suggested that the religion is little more than a sophomoric rhetorical exercise, the predictable product of a precocious young philosopher. In this article, I consider these viewpoints and suggest that, if we take Kopimist doctrine at its word, we can better understand it as the crystallization of an emerging value system centered around the proliferation of digital, networked information. Like copyright, and monastic Christianity before, it, Kopimism stakes out a socioepistemological vantage point, seeking to reconcile the regulatory demands of the 20th Century’s copyright regime with the cultural ramifications of today’s global digital information infrastructure.

Based on interviews with Kopimist officials and worshippers, as well as a critical reading of the religion’s “constitution” and other doctrinal texts, I delineate the complex ethical boundaries surrounding this new belief system, and examine it in contrast to previous religious and legal systems, evaluating its points of continuity and rupture to illuminate the unique challenges to ethics and morality in an era of information abundance and continuing material and educational inequity.

Published in: Education, Spiritual
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Sharing in Spirit: Kopimism and the Digital Eucharist

  1. 1. SHARING IN SPIRIT KOPIMISM ANDTHE DIGITAL EUCHARIST Aram Sinnreich Rutgers University School of Communication & Information ! ICA Preconference on Sharing May 22, 2014
  2. 2. WHAT IS KOPIMISM?
  3. 3. KOPIMISM’S FAMILYTREE 2001 2003 2003 Pirate Party 2006 Kopimism ~2010
  4. 4. SOPHISTRY? NnEeTt
  5. 5. 

SsEeCcRrEeTt Our words shall, simultaneously, sound as foolishness upon deaf ears and lovely caresses to those who see and hear, but above all: They should bite firmly into you – and your mom. ! 100 roads to #g-d: ! 004. Experiment with research chemicals. ! 027. Give yourself cult status, and act accordingly. ! 100. Be careful of burning kittens.
  6. 6. SCAM? “This story . . . has hoax written all over it. Let’s be clear here. This is a religion designed to circumvent piracy laws. M.I.A.
  7. 7. MORAL PRECEPTS 1. Information is sacred “In ways and for reasons that remain to be explored, the ribosomes appeared, who could copy.This was the beginning of Life.We therefore see Copying as the first manifestation of the Divine Spirit.” - Kopimist Gospel “kopimi is the natural state of the universe.” - roth, #telecomix 2. Information is our birthright “All people should have access to all information produced.” - Kopimist Website “To keep source code [for software] hidden from others is comparable to slavery . . . [IP laws] are egregious violations of our intellectual sovereignty and freedom” - Kopimist Constitution
  8. 8. MORAL PRECEPTS 3. Copymixing > Copying “Copymixing is a sacred kind of copying, moreso than the perfect, digital copying, because it expands and enhances the existing wealth of information.” - Kopimist Constitution “Sexual reproduction is not about making identical copies, but about remixing, which we see as the highest form of copying” - Kopimist Gospel 4. Privacy is a fundamental right “It is a direct sin to monitor and eavesdrop on people.” - Kopimist Website :“It is important that no monitoring or recording of worship activities takes place. Because of society’s vicious legislative and litigous [sic] persecution of Kopimists, participants in the service are expected to encrypt their traffic.” - Kopimist Constitution
  9. 9. ETHICAL PARAMETERS ““I think personal information are NOT part of koppimism . . . to be right, if are some data private, they shouldn’t be copied, I also respect privacy of data [sic]” - Nick Wao, #telecomix “I sort of came to my on conclusion on what they mean by ‘all information’, I believe they are speaking on public information about the world, and not the private information of a person..I could be wrong.” - e0s, #kopimi “public information sharing in general is a benefit to society, and the information sharing of private individuals against their will, is detrimental to society.” - e0s, #kopimi “Kopimism does not dictate where these lines should be drawn. We hope to empower people to become their own masters and to decide what is right and wrong for themselves.” - Chris Carmean “most of the kopimist sites have a very clear bias towards data that general use useful to many” - roth, #telecomix
  10. 10. DOCTRINAL LINEAGE: NORSE MYTHOLOGY Well-being I won And wisdom too. I grew and took joy in my growth:
 From a word to a word I was led to a word, From a deed to another deed. ! - Poetic Edda
  11. 11. DOCTRINAL LINEAGE:
 MONASTIC CHRISTIANITY “You who will transcribe this book, I charge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ … compare what you have copied against the original and correct it carefully. ! - St. Irenaeus
  12. 12. DOCTRINAL LINEAGE:
 LOGOS THEOLOGY “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” ! - John 1:1
  13. 13. GERSON’S EUCHARIST Holy Communion is the “first step in building a radical Christian identity against individualism” ! “The breaking of bread is not only a symbol of unity but the sharing of food is also a literal way of loving thy neighbor. That we all share the same bread means that we are all part of the same world, the same system.”
  14. 14. CONCLUSION “You who will transcribe this book, I charge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ … compare what you have copied against the original and correct it carefully. “the Author of any Book … shall have the sole Right and Liberty of Printing such Book and Books for the Term of One and twenty Years” “‘Copy and Paste what thou wilt’ shall be the whole of the law.”
  15. 15. THANK YOU. Aram Sinnreich Rutgers University School of Communication & Information ! ICA Pre-conference on Sharing May 22, 2014 ! Twitter: @aram sinn@rutgers.edu

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