The Permanent Committee was asked the following question.
Question: What is the ruling of pirating computer softwares?
Answer: It is not permissible to reproduce a software which the owners of it do not allow being reproduced except through their permission, based upon the statement of the Messenger, alayhi as-salaatu was-salaam, “the Muslims are upon their covenants” and his, alayhi as-salaatu was-salaam, statement, “the wealth of a Muslim person is unlawful except through his consent” and based upon his, alayhi as-salaatu was-salaam, statement “whoever were to get possession of something lawful first then he has more right to it” regardless of if the owner of these softwares is a muslim or non-military disbeliever because the rights of non-military disbeliever is to be respected as the rights of a muslim (are respected), and with Allah relies success.
Reference: al-Lajnatu ad-Daa’mah (188/13).
Shaykh al-Uthaymeen, may Allah have mercy upon him, spoke regarding pirated software, saying:
“…As for if the government does not allow it then it is not permissible, due to Allah has commanded to obey the rulers except in the disobedience of Allah, so refraining from reproducing it, is not from the disobedience of Allah and as from the angle of the companies (not allowing it) then I believe if a person were to reproduce it only for his own personal-use then it is okay, as for if he were to pirate it for business reasons then it is impermissible because it is harmful to others, it resembles the act of establishing a sale over the sale of another muslim, whereas if they were to begin to sell it for a hundred while you have reproduced it and sold it for fifty then it is considered to be establishing a sale over the sale of your brother.
Question: Is it permissible for me to buy it pirated for fifty from the shopkeepers?
Answer (of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen): No, it is not permissible unless he informs you that he is authorized (to do so) and if he does not provide authorization for it, then this is (considered to be) encouraging in sin and oppression.
Question: And what if he were not to give him approval, may Allah reward you with good?
Answer (of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen): Similarly, If you do not know, whereas sometimes a person does not know, he stops over at the exhibition and buys (an item) although he does not know, there is nothing wrong in this, the one who does not know, there is nothing (i.e. sin) upon him.
Reference: Liqaatul Baabil Maftooh (178/#6).