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A group of self-confessed radical pirates are pinning their hopes on gaining official recognition of their own unique belief system. The founders of the Missionary Church of Kopimism – who hold CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – hope that along with this acceptance will come harmony, not just with each other, but also with the police.

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‘Thou shall not steal’ is one of the most well-known of the Ten Commandments. Although most familiar to those in Christian circles, its message is universal and cuts across most religious boundaries. But while stealing – taking another’s property and therefore depriving him of it – is widely frowned upon, some have a wider definition for the word. Make no mistake, if the entertainment industries were God passing their sacred rulings to Moses, there would have almost certainly been one more – Thou Shalt Not Copy. But for the followers of a brand new religion in Sweden, this commandment would be against everything they believe in. The congregation at Missionary Kopimistsamfundet – The Missionary Church of Kopimism – believe that copying is to be embraced by religion and they hope that very shortly this way of life will be officially accepted by the authorities.

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Founded by 19-year-old philosophy student, Isaac Gerson, this brand new church believes that copying and the sharing of information is the most beautiful thing in the world. To have your information copied is a token of appreciation, say the church, a sure sign that people think you have done something good. For those thinking this is some kind of late April Fool’s joke, think again. In late 2010 the church applied to the authorities to be accepted as an official religion. That application was denied at the end of March on the basis that although the church is indeed a community, its meetings did not constitute ‘worship’. Undeterred, the church founders have requested a meeting to find out what is required in order to gain official acceptance. They certainly aren’t giving in.

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“Throughout history, various groups around the world have been persecuted by oppressors. They have since taken refuge in religion with a desire for a peaceful coexistence. Without threats and harassment,” the church explain. “In our belief, communication is sacred. Communication needs to be respected. It is a direct sin to monitor and eavesdrop on people. Absolute secrecy is holy in the Church of Kopimism.” The church has its own set of axioms, most of which revolve around free access to knowledge and the sharing of information. They include: # Reproduction of information is ethically right. # The flow of information is ethically right. # Remix Spirit is a sacred kind of copying. # Copying or remixing information conveyed by another person is an act of respect.

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“Throughout history, various groups around the world have been persecuted by oppressors. They have since taken refuge in religion with a desire for a peaceful coexistence. Without threats and harassment,” the church explain. “In our belief, communication is sacred. Communication needs to be respected. It is a direct sin to monitor and eavesdrop on people. Absolute secrecy is holy in the Church of Kopimism.” The church has its own set of axioms, most of which revolve around free access to knowledge and the sharing of information. They include: # Reproduction of information is ethically right. # The flow of information is ethically right. # Remix Spirit is a sacred kind of copying. # Copying or remixing information conveyed by another person is an act of respect.

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The church is also acutely against DRM and other methods of protecting or hiding code. “To appropriate software (to keep source code hidden from others), is comparable to slavery, and should be banned,” they declare. Perhaps predictably the church use the ‘Kopimi’ logo (a pyramid with the letter K inside) as their official symbol and hold CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred. Joining the church seems fairly easy too. All you have to do is agree that everything should be copied and information should be free in line with the axioms above, then load the church’s website so that the ‘kopimi’ logo refreshes (or indeed draw it, or copy it in any way) and you’re in. Potential followers can request more information by using the online form here. In common with many other religions around the world, expect the followers of the Missionary Church of Kopimism to be widely persecuted for their beliefs. Praying they don’t get caught while practising them will offer little protection. After all, even the Pope backs up his faith with bullet-proof glass.

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