Q: A layperson says that even though copyright is haraam, it is nevertheless unethical and against Islamic spirit to copy and freely distribute copyright materials. As in doing so, the company that had produced such copyrighted material in fact loses large numbers of potential customers who had rather opted for the free, pirated copy instead. He says that such behaviour is Islamically unethical as many companies are being deprived of business and customers. His issue is not with copyright, but with those people who freely distribute otherwise costly copyrighted materiel or resell it cheaply. His says such people are unethical and un-Islamic in spirit – but not that there actions are impermissible. He then cites a 2010 report that claims the global loss to software piracy is over $50 billion as a support of his argument. Is there any substance to his claims on the basis of taqwa, ethics, and Islamic spirit?
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)
This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.