Is it permissible to use copyrighted materials for business use?

Q: Is it permissible to use copyrighted materials for business use?


الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب

A: The issue of copyright is a disputed issue amongst Muslim scholars.  Some scholars accept the concept arguing that there is no express provision in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah that restricts ownership to tangible property.  Others scholars reject it arguing that there is no precedent in the Qur’an and Sunnah that supports the concept of intellectual property and the ownership of an intangible entity.  Whilst both positions have their own arguments, in my opinion, in the modern world the former view is more preferred and is universally accepted worldwide.  Furthermore, even in the view wherein the concept of copyright is not recognised one is required to obey the laws of the land when they do not conflict with Shariah.  Therefore, if the law requires one to refrain from an activity that is otherwise permissible one must adhere to the law.  Accordingly, if your use of the copyrighted material contravenes the law on copyright it is not permissible for you to use such material in this manner.  Accordingly, any income earned from the sale of such material is also unlawful.

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