There are books in electronic format and lectures available on certain websites which can be downloaded. They have put there people who bought it or got it from somewhere. However they would only be available to us if we bought it(copyright). can we read these books or listen to lectures only for the purpose of gaining knowledge?
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh
Copyright is an intellectual property. This means that if someone wrote a book, they become the exclusive owner of the right to publish it, and nobody has the right to publish, copy, or reproduce their book without their consent.
The preferred view is that copyright is legal and permissible; therefore one must abide by its rules. The vast majority of countries nowadays also have copyright laws, so even those who oppose this ruling must follow it since it is a law of their country. Every citizen of their country enters into an agreement with it to abide by all of its laws, as long as they do not compel them to do anything against Islamic law.
If the websites have copyright rules stating that one must purchase the books and lectures, then it will not be permissible for one to read the books and listen to the lectures without purchasing them. This is not deprivation of knowledge since it is possible for one to purchase them legally. Also, if one knows books and lectures with copyright rules were uploaded onto sites illegally, it will not be permissible in that case either. Most books and lectures which have copyright rules attached to them are available for legal purchase from shops or the internet. If the books, lectures, and websites have no copyright restriction, then it will be permissible for one to utilize them without purchase.
(Contemporary Fatawa, P. 188, Idara-e-Islamiat)
(Qadaya Fiqhiyya Mu’asara, Vol. 1, P. 96-107, Maktaba Al-Farabi)
And Allah knows best
Ml. Asif Umar,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah