Praise be to Allaah.
Copyright or the rights of authors, inventors and
producers, and other financial and moral rights, belong to the owners of
these works and it is not permissible to transgress against them or
undermine them without the permission of their owners. That includes
tapes, CDs and books.
Reference may be made concerning that to what was written by
Shaykh Bakr ibn ‘Abd-Allaah Abu Zayd (may Allaah preserve him) about
copyright in his book Fiqh al-Nawaazil, 2/101-187.
The Standing Committee was asked: Is it permissible for me to
record (a copy of) a tape and sell it without asking permission from its
author, or from the publisher if the author is no longer alive? Is it
permissible to make many copies of a book and sell them? Is it permissible
to make a copy of a book and not sell it, rather keep it for myself, if it
is marked copyright; do I have to ask for permission or not?
They replied: There is nothing wrong with making copies of
useful tapes and selling them, or making copies of books and selling them,
because that is helping to spread knowledge, unless their authors have
stated that this is not allowed, in which case their permission must be
End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 13/187
The Committee was also asked: I work in the field of
computers, and since I started working I have been making copies of programs
to work with them. I have been doing that without purchasing an original
copy of these programs, knowing that these programs carry warnings against
making copies and their copyright is protected, like the phrase “all rights
reserved” which appears on some books. The author of the program may be a
Muslim or a kaafir. My question is: is it permissible to make copies in this
manner or not?
They replied: It is not permissible to make copies of
programs whose authors have forbidden the making of copies without their
permission, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) said: “The Muslims are bound by their conditions.” And he (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever reaches a persmittible
thing first has more right to it.” It does not matter whether the author of
the program is a Muslim or a kaafir who is not in a state of war with Islam,
because the rights of a kaafir who is not in a state of war with Islam are
to be respected like the rights of a Muslim.
End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 13/188.
There is also a statement from the Islamic Fiqh Council
concerning intellectual property rights in which it says:
Trade names, trademarks, copyright and patents are all rights
which belong exclusively to their owners. In modern times they have come to
have a considerable financial value. These rights are recognized according
to sharee’ah, and they should not be violated.
Copyright and patents are protected by sharee’ah. Their
owners have the right to buy or sell them and nobody has the right to
violate these rights.
Undoubtedly the authors of these tapes and CDs have expended
time, effort and money to produce them, and there is nothing in sharee’ah to
indicate that they should not take the profits that result from this work.
The one who transgresses against their rights is wronging them and consuming
their wealth unlawfully.
If it is permissible to transgress against these rights, then
these companies would stop producing these things, because it beings no
returns. Their employees would have no motive to work, and undoubtedly
stopping this work would result in a great deal of good being withheld from
people. So it is appropriate that the scholars have stated that it is haraam
to transgress against these rights.
This is the basic ruling, but in some cases it may be
permissible to make copies without the author’s permission. That applies in
1 – If something is not available in the marketplace, if
there is a need for it and it is charitable distribution, not for sale or
for making a profit.
2 – If there is a great need for it and its authors are
asking for more than its price, and they have already made enough money to
cover the cost of producing this program with a reasonable profit – which is
to be decided by people of experience. In that case, if it serves the
interests of the Muslims, it is permissible to copy it, so as to ward off
harm. But that is subject to the condition that it not be sold for personal
And Allaah is the Source of strength.
You can contact the companies which produced the material and
tell them of the charitable purpose behind it and ask them for permission to
make copies, or give them an appropriate price.
And Allaah knows best.