No Permission Is Required in Summarizing another Author’s Book
Fatwa No: 428845

Question

As-Salaam Alaykum. If someone wishes to write a book or create a video series based (loosely or heavily) on another work, is it mandatory to get permission from the author? The person intending to create the new series will rely on the hadeeth gradings and overall structure of the book. Jazakallah Khayran

Answer

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

The scholarly view adopted at Islamweb is that copyrights, patents’ rights, and other moral rights belong to their respective owners, and therefore, it is impermissible to infringe them. The Islamic Fiqh Council, in its fifth conference held in Kuwait, issued its resolution to this effect.

Accordingly, whatever constitutes an infringement upon such rights requires the permission of the owner of those rights. Some actions, however, are not considered an infringement, and no permission is required for them.

You said that the second work is based on the first one, and this is not sufficient information to determine whether or not this act constitutes an infringement of the copyrights of the first work’s owner and therefore requires his permission. Some acts in this regard fall under the category of forbidden infringement, and others do not, like writing a book, for example, in which the author summarizes another author’s book. He is not required, in this case, to seek permission, according to the opinion of most contemporary jurists, because a summary is different from the original book and is the result of the researcher’s effort, even if he relies on the main idea or work of the other author. However, citing the source of the summarized version is required to maintain academic integrity, and it should be mentioned in the introduction to his book. The Islamic Research Magazine, issued by the General Presidency of the Departments of Scholarly Research, Iftaa’, Da‘wah, and Guidance in Saudi Arabia, stated: “As for the scholars who held that it is permissible to summarize, they are almost countless, as evident in the hundreds of summaries that were compiled throughout the various ages and in various fields of knowledge…” [End of quote]

Allah Knows best.

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