Dr. Monzer Kahf, Scholar in Islamic Economics & Financial Expert, states the following: “In showing great respect for the intellectual properties, Islamic Shari’ah stipulates that it is forbidden or haram to infringe on these properties. Producing, selling and promoting imitation goods must be forbidden too because they have a stolen component.
Yet I argue for certain exceptions on delicate moral bases. They are all conditional on local authorities in one’s country being either permissive or do not intend to enforce a prohibition. The three exceptions are as follows:
1. There are expensive (and may be monopolistic) goods that many producers imitate but with certain differences not much noticeable to consumers but keep the legality clear. This is not legally imitative and both production and sale of such goods are permissible.
2. Goods that relate to spreading knowledge, especially in computer software, may be permitted to imitate, or copy, and sell if the prices of the originals are monopolistic. There is a lot of monopolistic practices in this area and hundred of millions of people need these products, sometimes for economic reasons, like the case all over Africa, Asia and South America. Certainly, this does not apply to business software and programs. There is a lot in the Shari’ah about the importance of information and spread of knowledge, with strict prohibition laid on withholding knowledge and information that override the intellectual rights in areas of education and teaching, especially if owners of these rights impose monopolistic prices that are much above direct cost and the affordability of poor people in those areas.
3. There is the case of monopolies that are not tamed or controlled in their countries or in the countries of users of their products.
On the other hand, if local authorities enforce a prohibition on imitated goods, applying these three exceptions may cause the person damages and problems with the law and a Muslim must prevent himself/herself from falling into legal trouble unless in case of defending basic human rights against tyranny and foreign aggression.”