I propose that we name St. Columbkille (Columba/Colmcille) as the patron saint of BitTorrent and other forms of Net piracy.
Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finnian of Moville over a psalter. Columba copied the manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian, intending to keep the copy. Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. The dispute eventually led to the pitched Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561, during which many men were killed. Columba’s copy of the psalter has been traditionally associated with the Cathach of St. Columba. A synod of clerics and scholars threatened to excommunicate him for these deaths, but St. Brendan of Birr spoke on his behalf with the result that he was allowed to go into exile instead. Columba suggested that he would work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert as many people as had been killed in the battle. He exiled himself from Ireland, to return only once again, several years later.
So St. Columba made an “illegal” copy of someone else’s property and so defended his right to make such an unauthorized copy that he was willing to go to war over it. Sounds like a lot of Net pirates I’ve encountered.
Photo of Cathach of St. Columba in the public domain via Wikipedia Commons.
- CathachOfStColumba.jpg: Wikimedia Commons | Public domain