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Church of Piracy rallies for legal battle in Russia

The latest effort to over-turn a controversial anti-piracy law in Russia will involve an application for legal recognition of Kopimism, a religion based on online file sharing.

By Open Source Community on Mon, 08/05/13 - 3:42pm.

File-sharing advocates are seeking to spread the Missionary Church of Kopimism, a religion steeped in file sharing as a philosophical concept, to Russia in an effort to overturn the country's controversial new anti-piracy law, Russian news site Izvestia reports.

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One of the symbols of Kopimism, which holds the copying and sharing of information sacred.

The law has been called Russia's SOPA, in reference to the massively unpopular bill that was proposed in the United States in 2011 and quickly criticized by internet users and major companies alike, and was put into action last week. The law was formed to crack down on websites that provide or facilitate access to illegally obtained content, particularly video, audio, and ebook files. Due to disparity in the legal services for the same content, which the BBC reports ranges from impractically high prices to extremely limited selection, Russia is a hotbed for internet piracy. In May, the U.S. Office of Trade Representative listed Russia among its priority countries in a report highlighting worldwide internet piracy issues.

To stem this trend, the Russian government is asking copyright holders to alert them of sites that provide access to pirate content, then will provide the accused site 72 hours to remove the content before blocking its domain until the site can undergo a formal court ruling, according to the BBC.

So, activists in several parts of Russia - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Khabarovsk - are applying to form an officially recognized church of Kopimism, which they hope will enable them to challenge the anti-piracy law. According to a report from TorrentFreak, the activists are not waiting for the Russian government to recognize the church before they file a lawsuit challenging the law.

As soon as the papers are filed the church’s founders will file a lawsuit against the anti-piracy legislation that came into force August 1. They will do this on the basis that the law, which restricts copying and sharing, is an insult to Kopimists.

Over the weekend, Russia saw its first "Kopimi-inspired" wedding, which involves the exchange of silicon chips.

Kopism was initially founded by a 19-year-old Swedish philosophy student, and gained legal recognition in Sweden in January 2012. The religion is based on the idea of free and open access to all information, and strongly opposes copyright when applied to anything based on knowledge. In the religion, the commands "CTRL+C" and "CTRL+V" for copy/paste are deemed sacred. However, it remains unclear whether Kopimism involves the recognition of any gods or deities.

The Kopimi-inspired attempt is the latest recourse for file-sharing advocates in Russia. Last Thursday, more than 1,700 websites participated in a voluntary blackout, blocking access to any of their information in protest of the law and linking to a petition to repeal the law. The petition has since earned more than 89,000 signatures, although it needs to exceed 100,000 for the Russian government to officially recognize it.

However, the new religious-based effort may fall short as well. In the Izvestia report, multiple lawyers and lawmakers cited the country's separation of church and state as an obstacle to making legal progress based on religious claims.