Downloading Copyrighted Materials: Allowed?

26 December, 2018
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Nowadays 95% of people in our country download copyrighted software, movies (permissible movies of course that are free of impermissible material) and music from websites. Are such downloads allowed or haram in Islam? Since the cost of original software and movies in our country is so high that middle class people can't afford them; will it be allowed for them to download such materials from websites?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- Islam condemns all kinds of stealing or taking others’ possessions.

2- Downloading copyrighted materials without permission from their owners is not allowed in Islam.

3- It is the role of the state to prevent monopoly of technology and knowledge and to guarantee reasonable prices for various commodities and goods.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Copying the copyrighted materials without the permission is not allowed; this is the ruling of the World Fiqh Council. They have reasoned that it is akin to stealing.

On such issues, we are to abide by the rulings of eminent scholars. So, as Muslims we should stay away from activities that are considered as forbidden.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.