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['Aalim Network QR] Pirating and Sharing Software

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
Salamun Alaykum,

The following question was kindly answered by Shaykh Hasnain Kassamali.


Abbas Jaffer
Moderator - 'Aalim Network



My question is regarding pirated and sharing software.  Many people now a
days share software they buy at retail stores.  On the back of the software,
there is a user license that in general states that the program may only be
installed on one computer at a time and that one may not share the program
as it would be breaking the license. It also states that if the user does
not wish to follow this license that he/she must not purchase it as it would
be illegal to break this license.

I am in agreement with the Alims that do not recognize copyrights as
legitimate.  My first question is whether or not these types of licenses are
considered a copyright or a contract in Sharia.  Also, if this type of
purchase is considered a contract, is the contract a legitamate one since
the company with whom I'm making the purchase is not present, or if I know
that the company is run or owned by non-Muslims.

My second question based on the above answer is, then is it Halal to share
this software with friends?  Conversely, is it Halal to accept this software
from friends?  My concern isn't so much for software that I know a Muslim
has written, for if I know that Muslim has written it then I would be
cautious of his requests.  Basically, the majority software that is written
by non-Muslims in the stores is the software I am most concerned about, such
as Microsoft products etc.

I know the questions may be a bit restricting due to semantics, so I give
the kind responder to my question the ability to rephrase words and to
rephrase my question as he sees best to answer them. 

May Allah reward you for this excellent service you have provided.



The topic has been discussed a number of times and sometimes in detail on
the Ahlul Bayt (a) Discussion Group. I hope that my following response
purely based on the fatwa of Ayatul.. Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Seestani will
not trigger the repetition of what has already been discussed.

In "Al-Fatawa al-Muyassara" (Beirut 1417) which is according to the rulings
of Ayatul.. Sayyid `Ali al-Husayni al-Seestani, there is a question and
answer on the copyright issue.

The questioner asked if it was appropriate for some publishing houses to
print certain quantity of books for trading without the permission of the
author or the publisher despite the phrase "All rights of the author and
publisher reserved." The shar`i response to this was that the pharse [all
rights reserved] has no effect whatsoever except where the rights of authors
and publishers have been duly regulated and are authorised by Hakim al-Sahr`i. 

In light of the above there is no need to pay heed to the restrictions
appearing on the packages for I believe that these are part of the copyright
regulations. However, any purchaser, be s/he a Muslim or not, who belives
that by purchasing and using the software, s/he is entering a legal contract
then s/he will be bound by the stipulations. Consequently, copying or
sharing of these softwares would be a breach of contract and impermissible
in the Shari`ah.

God knows best.

Hasnain Kasssmali
Humble servant of the Ahlul Bayt (a).

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