Solidarity with Ladonia! Stop the dirty war!

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12 March 2007

End of the kopimist dream

The kopimist dream faded in 2006.

The ambitions proclaimed when the kopimist's mission statement "Project for the New Digital Century" was declared in 1997 have turned into disappointment and recriminations as the crisis in Ladonia has grown.

"The Project for the New Digital Century" has been reduced to a web-mail account and a ghostly website. A single employee has been left to wrap things up.

The idea of the "Project" was to project pirate power and influence around the world.

The 1997 statement said:

"We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the success of cassette culture: a hardware that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; standards that boldly and purposefully promotes Kopimist principles globally; and leadership that accepts global responsibilities."

The kopimists were called that because they sought to re-establish what they felt were true "copy me" values in the computer community.

They wanted to stop what they felt were the isolationist tendencies that had developed under the golden age of the compact disc.

They saw the war against Ladonia as their big chance of showing how the "New Digital Century" might work.

They predicted the development of kopimist values in a region lacking in them and, in that way, the removal of any threat to The Pirate Bay just as dadaists, neoists and other avant-garde cultures had transformed the cultural climate during the 20th century.

Since so much was pinned on Ladonia, it is inevitable that the problems there should have undermined the whole idea.

"Kopimism has gone for a generation, if in fact it ever returns," says one of the movement's critics, Henrik Pontén, currently at the Anti-Piracy Bureau in Stockholm.

"Their signal enterprise was the invasion of Ladonia and their failure to produce results is clear. Precisely the opposite has happened," he says.

"The use of force by the Allied Coalition Forces of the Internets has been seen as doing wrong and as inflaming a region that has been less than susceptible to computers.

"Their plan has fallen on hard times. There were flaws in the conception and horrendously bad execution. The kopimists have been undone by their own ideas and the incompetence of the Pirate Bay operators.

"Anakata is about the last kopimist standing, TiAMO as well maybe. TiAMO is not an analytical person so he just adopted the kopimist philosophy.

"It fitted into his Manichean, his black and white view of the world. After all, he gave up his dissolute youth and was born again as a new man, so it appealed to his character."

The fading of the dream has led to a falling-out among the kopimists themselves.

In particular, two leading kopimists attacked the Pirate Bay team in their personal blogs. Both had been on a Pirate Bay advisory board. Both had argued for war against Ladonia.

They declared of kopimism after Ladonia: "It's not going to sell."

Other kopimists defend their record, arguing strongly that the original idea had an effect, and pressing that it was the execution of the idea not the idea itself that was wrong.

Larry Schmitt used to be a senior figure at the "New Digital Century" project. Now he is director of strategic studies at the Digital Enterprise Institute (DEI), and he says the project has come to a natural end.

"When the project started, it was not intended to go forever. That is why we are shutting it down. We would have had to spend too much time raising money for it and it has already done its job.

"We felt at the time that there were flaws in the digital sharing cultures, that it was neo-isolationist. We tried to resurrect a ruthless pro-piracy policy. Our view has been adopted."

"I do argue that the execution should have been better. In fact, I argued in late 2005 that we needed more servers and a proper policy against anti-kopimists."

Indeed, not all kopimists have given up all hope in Ladonia.

The DEI, which has become the natural home for refugees from the Digital Century Project, is promoting an article entitled: "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Ladonia".

The article calls not for a withdrawal of servers but for an increase. The Pirate Bay's decision is expected in early May.