Answered by: Shaykh Ahmed bin Mohamed Umarji
I have a Medical Book Store here in Pakistan. As you know most Medical books are written and published by International Authors and Publishers and almost all of these books are protected by Copyright. But International Books are always very expensive and most students are not able to afford these high prices; for example, a book studied by Physiotherapy students costs almost 22000 Pakistani rupees but its pirated copy can easily be bought for 1000 to 1500 rupees. And I as a seller can get this book for 600-700 rupees. But the Original books by Pakistani authors/publishers are really cheap, so we do not sell pirated books published by Pakistani authors/publishers. We only sell pirated books because they are affordable for the students. So, I have a few questions regarding this issue.
Q No. 1:- Is it permissible to sell these pirated books (permission is not sought by the publisher/s)?
Q No. 2:- Will the income from selling these books be Halal?
Q No. 3:- Some International students/customers ask me to provide scanned copies of books by Pakistani authors. Is it permissible to make scanned copies of the book/s and sell them or give them free of cost in PDF format without permission from copyright owners?
Q No. 4:- If we do not sell these pirated books; then our profit will be greatly reduced and it will be nearly impossible for us to sustain our business. What should we do in this case?
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The issue of copyright was not a historical issue, for this reason, these classical books of fiqh have no mention of it. The foremost Mufti of our era, Mufti Taqi Usmani states that pirating books is impermissible.1
Thus pirating the books, making PDFs, and selling the books will be impermissible and the income will not be Halal.
‘Abdallah b. Mas’ud reported God’s Messenger as saying, “Trying to earn a lawful livelihood is an obligatory duty in addition to the duties which are obligatory.”2
As a businessperson, you should try and look into other business ventures which do not involve those things which are impermissible.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Shaykh Ahmed bin Mohamed Umarji
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
1 Contemporary Fatawa – Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani – Idara-e-Islamiat .
2 [Baihaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-iman Mishkat al-Masabih 2781 ]
عَنْ عَبْدِ َّ ﷲِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ َّ ﷲِ صَلَّ ى َّ ﷲُ عَلَیْھِ وَسَلَّ مَ: »طَلَبُ كَسْبِ الْحَلَالِ فَرِیضَةٌ بَعْدَ
الْفَرِیضَةِ« . رَوَاهُ الْبَیْھَقِ ُّ ي فِي شعب الْإیِمَان