Isak Gerson, founder of kopimist church: 'File-sharing' is not 'stealing'

Article published on Feb. 3, 2012
Article published on Feb. 3, 2012
‘We don’t believe in god at all,’ says Isak Gerson. However, this was no obstacle for the 20-year-old Swedish philosophy student to establish the missionary church of kopimism (from ‘copy + me’) – a church without hierarchy, whose 6000 followers actively encourage internet users to share all kinds of files

cafebabel.com: Isak, how did you come up with the idea of the missionary church of kopimism?

Isak Gerson: It wasn't really my idea. It's been around in the groups of believing kopimists since before I got into it.

cafebabel.com: In an interview with Times journalist Ruthie Gledhill you said: ‘I don’t steal. I just copy. Like Jesus did with the bread and the fish.’ Do you consider yourself the ‘saviour’ of the kopimism church?

Isak Gerson: No, I'm just a temporary elected person. I'm not a prophet or a holy figure or anything.

cafebabel.com: The ‘Ctrl+ c’ and ‘Ctrl+v’ buttons on a computer’s keyboard are considered sacred by kopimists. How do you worship these symbols?

Isak Gerson: Mostly, we just type them. They're holy in themselves.

cafebabel.com: You claim the right to free access to knowledge. What exactly do you want people to copy?

Isak Gerson: We encourage copying of everything, no matter what's copied. What is important is the copying itself, not what's being copied.

cafebabel.com: Are there any gatherings, prayers or offerings of money in order to keep the kopimism church going?

Isak Gerson: Not really. All participation is voluntary. We have some common services, but we mostly just meet up, copy information and encourage each other to keep copying.

cafebabel.com: Do you have a tactic to attract more believers?

Isak Gerson: Not really, we just copy.

cafebabel.com: What is your approach towards freedom on the web?

Isak Gerson: Freedom on the web sounds like a pretty cool thing. However, we don't really discuss it that much. What's important for us is not the freedom to copy, but the copying itself. The laws have never been much of a problem for us. We just ignore them.

cafebabel.com: Is it at all possible to be both an author and a member of the kopimism church?

Isak Gerson: I don't see any problem. We don't see copying as stealing. I write because I want people to read what I write.

cafebabel.com: Aren’t you afraid to end up in jail for breaching the copyright law?

Isak Gerson: I think it's worth it. The risk is not that big.

cafebabel.com: What is the leader of the kopimism religion like in private?

Isak Gerson: I'm twenty today. I'm in my third year of studying philosophy. During my free time, I usually help out with my local book cafe or improve my vegan cooking.

Image: (cc) courtesy of diogenesgroup/ youtube