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Using Pirated Games

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: If I have used pirated games in the past, how do I pay the company back?


Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Pirating games and using pirated games is forbidden. Please see:

When it comes to making amends, it is somewhat difficult to define exactly what the reparations are for breaking copyright laws because the whole concept is based on removing harm from the holder of the copyright and not a proper financial right.

What does this mean? Usually, misappropriation of wealth (ghasb) has to be paid for. If you steal someone’s car and drive it around for a month, you have to pay them back the highest about you could have paid someone to rent a car like that. (Minhaj al-Talibin, Nawawi) This is because the use of the car was taken. It has a market value, and it was unduly taken and withheld from its owner, and therefore must be given back.

Now with pirating software or games, one is not exactly taking away wealth. Rather one is harming someone’s income by breaking copyright laws. So the issue is based on harm and not the use of the pirated game per se.

So, how harmful was it? How much must one payback? What if your pirated copy popularised the game and didn’t actually harm the company at all? These are all discussions that a judge might have to deal with when assessing the damage.

On a personal level, though, I would start by contacting the company and asking if they mind what you did. If they clearly forgo any reparations, then that is fine. Otherwise, one would imagine that it would be enough to simply pay the company what one would have paid for the real copy.

And Allah knows best.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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