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What Is the Correct View on Copyright and Patents?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Syed Johir Miah


What is the correct view on copyright and patents? Example case: I buy a book and scan it to pdf and distribute it for free.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


Copyright is a legal right that protects the use of your work once your idea has been physically expressed. The current copyright legislation in the UK is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Copyright law lays out a framework of rules around how that work can be used. It sets out the rights of the owner, as well as the responsibilities of other people who want to use the work.

You can do many things with your copyright work including for example copy, changing or selling it, sharing it online or renting it to someone as well as preventing other people from doing those things.

The UK has one of the strongest creative sectors in the world. Every time you watch an online clip, listen to music, read your favourite blog, or enjoy something creative, you are interacting with copyright in some way. Copyright protects most creative things you create, too.

A patent is a government authority or licence conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.

However, certain exceptions are found in the UK.

Certain exceptions only apply if the use of the work is ‘fair dealing’. For example, the exceptions relating to research and private study, criticism or review, or news reporting.

‘Fair dealing’ is a legal term used to establish whether a use of copyright material is lawful or whether it infringes copyright. There is no statutory definition of fair dealing – it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case. The question to be asked is: how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?

Factors that have been identified by the courts as relevant in determining whether a particular dealing with a work is fair to include:

  • does using the work affect the market for the original work? If the use of a work acts as a substitute for it, causing the owner to lose revenue, then it is not likely to be fair
  • is the amount of the work taken reasonable and appropriate? Was it necessary to use the amount that was taken? Usually, only part of a work may be used.[1]

Copyright is a right that Shariahrecognised and infringing on this right is therefore not permissible.

Hence, it is not permissible to use pictures from paysite by copying them and not paying, as this is stealing.

If someone writes a book, then 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.

Alternatively, you may obtain direct permission from the publishing house of the authored work.

In the aforementioned case, it would not be correct to buy a book, scan it to pdf and distribute it for free if it has copyright infringements.

Simply owning something in that form does not give the right to someone to scan and distribute.

Only Allah knows best.

Written by Maulana Syed Johir Miah

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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