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Topic-icon Translating a Book that does not have a Copyright

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8 years 7 months ago #1784 by moosaa.richardson
Translating a Book that does not have a Copyright was created by moosaa.richardson

Assalāmualaikum, a brother wants to translate the book Sifatus Ṣalāh (Shaykh Albaani) in his local language? Can he do so? Or for that matter any other book/work which does not make mention of any copyright?


Wa 'alaykumus-salāmu wa rahmatullaah.

Copyrights are valid and protected in Islām, and the rights to the book you are mentioning belong to Sa'd ar-Raashid in Riyaadh, the owner of the Ma'aarif Publishing Company.

The owner of the right in this case claims the right to prevent all translations done of the book without his permission. This claim is disputable, and what seems to be correct is that a translation of a book is an academic work created by the translator, and thus he (the translator alone) is the rightful owner of the translation. Also, claiming the rights to something that doesn't exist and may be created by someone else later should be considered an invalid claim, and Allaah knows best.

This issue was studied in detail by Shaykh Bakr Abū Zayd in his book Fiqh an-Nawaazil, and he concluded that a translator has the most right to be considered the legal owner of the created translation.

This issue is controversial however, and any disputes over this issue are taken to a Muslim court and decided there. While I may say this opinion is more correct, that doesn't mean it will be the choice of the judge in the case. In cases of differing, the judge ends the dispute in individual cases.

I have seen Sa'd ar-Raashid (may Allaah bless him) pursue an issue like this. So if you translate this book which he owns, then you may face him in court one day, or he may request part or all of your profit. I don't mean anything negative against him by this. I simply mean that he believes in this right he claims, while I do not agree with the grounds of such a claim.

Let us touch on another - perhaps more important - issue. The basis of your question may be from somone who has stolen the book and removed the copyright information. You are not excused from blame if you copy books which are copywrited because someone stole them and published them without the copyright information. As a publisher, you have a responsibility to ensure that the original owner of the material has given up his right to ownership of the book, or he authorizes you to print it.

If you say - "but the author is dead" - then there are a number of situations:

1) His family inherited the rights of his works, and thus the copyright still stands. Like in the case of Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymīn.

2) He sold (or gave away) the rights to the book in his lifetime. This is the case with many of the works of Shaykh Al-Albaanee, as mentioned in this case specifically.

3) He died a long time ago, and there is no claim to the work, yet someone has done a tahqeeq of the book, comparing manuscripts and taking care to produce the book in printed form accurately. In this case, the tahqeeq is owned by the muhaqqiq (the manuscript editor who produced the book). Similarly, the takhreej or sharḥ, ḥadīth work or explanation of a book is the ownership of the one who created that academic work.

4) You are simply printing the manusctipt as it, without any academic work done on it. While this is of little benefit usually, it is without copyright in such cases.

And Allaah knows best.
The following user(s) said Thank You: wedzmer

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8 years 4 months ago #1908 by wedzmer
alhamdulillahi rabbil 'aalameen, wa bihi nasta'in was salatu was salām wa 'ala ashrafil anbiya'i wal mursaleen wa ba'ad. assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi ta'ala wa barakatuh.

in a country where majority of muslims are non-arabic speakers, i myself is not excused from such. and from this society where the kuffar are the majority, where madrasah are only a few, and where da'wah of the manhaj salafi is rare, we only rely to books that are translated in english from arabic.

are we accountable if we were to use such books that have issues of copyrighting like that mentioned above?

another thing, if we were to translate books that were previously translated in english, and we translate it in our local dialect so that others would also benefit from such, having the condition that it is for free and was never used for profiteering, and for the sake of da'wah ilallah, are we still accountable for such? wouldn't the original translator which that his efforts reach our brothers and sisters be guided, bi-idhnillah, to the right manhaj?

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