Violating licensing conditions of software programs
Fatwa No: 264511

Question

Assalamu alaikum. Is the money obtained from developing/making software using haram tools(e.g. pirated software, illegal internet connection, illegal electricity connection, computer bought using ill gotten money, and so on) haram? If a vendor of a software I bought stated in the license that I can't make more than one copy of the software for backup purposes and I made more than one copy or I can't use the software for gaining unauthorized access to networks, data, accounts, or services and I use it to do those things, am I still allowed to use the software if the vendor said that doing those acts will terminate the license? Are they valid conditions? If they are valid conditions and I still used the software after termination of license for earning money, is the money haram? If the money obtained is haram then will all the things I bought using those money be haram also? If I used fake school papers and other required papers to apply for a job and I got accepted, will the money from my salary be haram? I hope to hear from you soon. Wassalamu alaikum.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and messenger.

With regard to the first part of your question regarding the violation of the terms and conditions of the owner of the software program, according to the preponderant opinion, it is an obligation to abide by those terms and it is not permissible to violate them. These conditions imply the possession of a utility to utilize it according to a determined extent and a specific manner. Based on such conditions, the contract has been concluded and agreed upon. So, violating such conditions constitutes a breach of the intellectual rights.

As for whatever was gained by way of using copied programs or violated utilities such as networks or electricity or a device purchased with forbidden wealth, the general answer is that there is no blame in benefiting from the money earned in that way, but one is liable for any violated utilities such as programs or networks or anything else. So, the one who violated those rights should reimburse the rights to their owners if possible. If this is not possible, he should give their value in charity while dedicating the reward to the owners of such utilities. If he does not know the exact amount, then he should give an amount by which he believes to be cleared of liability by doing so.

As regards the second part of the question about working with forged certificates and the ruling on the salary gained from that, we have already clarified the answer to this in Fataawa 84658 and 81709.

Allaah Knows best.

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