Muhammad Baazmool on Copyrights on Translations and Research,
Other Matters Related to Intellectual Property Rights in Islam
Audio in Arabic Only ]
is the ruling on what is known as "intellectual property
rights" (copyrights)? I ask because I have a website that
I use to publish my translations of the religious verdicts of
some of the scholars and their students. I also provide a needed
service to the translations by placing footnotes that refer
to the Verses of the Qur'aan mentioned, the sources of the narrations
used, and other comments necessary to understand the translation.
I only publish these religious verdicts or articles after obtaining
permission from the source (ie. the shaykh or the student of
knowledge himself). So do others have the right to take what
I place on my website and then publish it on their own websites?
by Shaykh Muhammad 'Umar Baazmool, professor at Umm Al-Quraa
University in Makkah [ audio
in 'Arabic only ]
is an example of an issue that has come about only recently
in this century. It is known as "al-huqooq al-fikriyyah"
or "al-huqooq al-ma'nawiyyah" (intellectual
property rights, or copyrights).
is apparent from the words of the people of knowledge, those
who have studied this issue, is that this is an established
right owned by the writer, translator, or the one who provides
any type of service (to some knowledge). He legitimately owns
the right of the work that he has done.
then others do not have the right to quote him from the work
he has done, that which he has exhausted himself doing, that
which he has exerted himself in, that work he has performed
and then published on his website. No one has the right to take
it from his website without providing a reference to him, and
without seeking his permission. For this is a kind of transgression
against the rights (of others).
some of the people of knowledge have pointed out something else,
and that is: That there should be some lenience when it comes
to affairs of the Religion, affairs of the Sharee'ah,
so as to benefit a larger number of people, and there are conditions
To ascribe any point of benefit to its source;
To fulfill the trust of quoting someone precisely and referring
to the quoted source properly;
To seek and gain permission (from the provider of the source
material) when possible, utilizing the manner of seeking permission
that is from Islam.
the meaning of these statements of the scholars is that we should
be lenient when it comes to any financial compensation regarding
these intellectual property rights (copyrights) on material
related to the Religion.
this position is one outlook, and Shaykh Saalih Al-Husayyin,
the Executive Chairman of the Presidency of the Two Sanctuaries,
has singled out this topic in a fine piece of research, dealing
with the fiqh rulings on these matters.
other research has been done in this field previously by Dr.
Fat-hi Ad-Duraynee. He researched the issues related to intellectual
property rights (copyrights). There are also a number of other
things written about this issue, and all of them conclude that:
Intellectual property rights and copyrights are legitimate and
are owned by the researcher, worker, or translator;
It is not proper to transgress against his rights;
If there is some financial benefit related to such work, then
he is more entitled to it than anyone else;
No one may use his work except after obtaining his permission,
and they must then relay everything precisely, and reference
it to the owner;
Others may only publish it in a way that is pleasing to the
owner (of the copyrighted material).
is what I know about this matter, and Allaah knows best.
If someone takes copyrighted material from its owner and then
places it on his website without referring to the source, or
placing a link to it, or anything else, then what is upon him,
and how do we deal with him when he does something like this?]
answer to this is found in what I have already said, since this
action of his is a kind of transgression against the intellectual
property rights (copyrights) of his Muslim brother. And this
action of his is similar to stealing, as this is stealing intellectual
property rights (copyrights), and stealing as defined in the
Sharee'ah is taking things that are valued at a quarter
of a deenaar or more.
say that it is upon the one who has done this action to hide
this material (ie. by removing the page), seek permission from
the owner, and not publish it until after this permission is
if he has taken some liberties with this material, making changes
to it, and has acted with tadlees (deception) , then
this is a crime that he has committed against the owner of this
material, and a transgression against the brother who did the
work of translating the material and making footnotes to it,
and has done an action that is not permissible.
no doubt, the people of wara', the people of the Religion,
the people of taqwaa are keen to do things in a way to
achieve (barakah) blessings. And blessings do not come
in a thing done in this manner. So if information is being taken
in this manner, then it will be void of any blessing.
Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said about
buying and selling:
two participants in a sale have a choice (to affirm
or cancel the sale), so long as they
do not seperate from each other. So if they are truthful and
mention all necessary details, then they will be blessed in
their sale. But if they lie and cover things up, then the blessings
of their sale will be eliminated." 
the affair is like this for buying and selling (everyday things),
then what do you think about intellectual property rights
(copyrights) associated with affairs of the Religion, affairs
of da'wah, or affairs of the Sharee'ah?!
the blessings of such actions will be deficient or wiped out
completely. And the early people of knowledge, may Allaah
have Mercy on them, said, as has been reported from Aboo 'Ubayd
Al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam and others, "From the barakah
(blessings) of knowledge is referencing each statement to
the one who said it."
you gained a benefit from someone, then you say, "This
benefit is something that I was ignorant of, and I learned
it from So-and-So," or, "So-and-So taught
me this benefit."
this is the case, what do you say about someone who approaches
the hard work of another person, something that he worked
on for months, for long days and many hours, and he takes
this work exactly as it is, and places it on his website,
even without any reference or mention of the owner of the
something permissible? Is this something befitting?
which is apparent: It is not permissible and he has done an
action that requires that he hasten to:
tawbah (repentence) from this action;
to the owner of the copyright;
is upon the owner of the copyright to be cooperative with
his brother, as perhaps he was ignorant, or perhaps he was
acting upon emotion and did not take heed of this matter.
So then it is upon him to be gracious and cooperative with
is upon all of us to work hard to teach the people these affairs.
And every person should respect the rights of others, so that
this kind of affair does not take place, as it is a form of
transgression against the rights (of the people). Islam calls
to the preservation of these kinds of rights, to uphold them,
and to not transgress (against others) or commit crimes like
these, and Allaah knows best.
tadlees (deception) being referred to here is the removal
of the name of the original author or translator and the claim
that the one who took the material actually authored or translated
authentic hadeeth on the authority of Hakeem ibn Hizaam, may
Allaah be pleased with him, collected by Al-Bukhaaree (#2079,
4/380-381 of Fat-hul-Baaree), Muslim (#3836, 5/416
of Sharh An-Nawawee) and others.
was translated exclusively for www.bakkah.net from a cassette
recording with the knowledge and permission of the shaykh,
file no. AAMB080, dated 1424/08/01. [ Click
here for audio ]
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