The history of copyright claims for Osho’s work - questions and answers

From The Sannyas Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In April 2016, put some questions to Ma Prem Sangeet :

The fact that no original documents exist that specify the transfer of the copyright from Osho to another entity seems clear enough after reading the Trademarks and copyright page.
But there are more questions.
Let's consider statements made by OIF on their website at
"Secondly because Osho assigned all his copyright to a foundation, all his works were registered during his lifetime in India (1970’s) and later in the USA on behalf of the foundation."
So OK, this seems strange, why then are there no documents proving those "registered" copyrights? Or was the intention that the rights were "orally" transferred from Osho to the foundation? Or somehow "implicitly", without legal documents?
OIF used documents they claimed were copyright assignment docs, but actually were licenses, to "register" the copyrights. Now OIF has come up with documents that "show" Sheela transferred everything to RFI under a power of attorney from Osho. These are just copies, not originals, allegedly "authenticated" by Niren, who was a co-conspirator in the Osho will forgery event. Note that the "new" docs allegedly existed at the time RFI and OIF were filing the licenses as a basis for copyright. If the docs are authentic, why didn't they show up until after the licenses were challenged in the US TM case? These copies could have been forged with cut-and-paste technology, never mind Photoshopping (which was probably used on the will).
Question continues with:
"Osho confirmed his assignment on many occasions, including under oath in a copyright case that was argued in America during his stay in the USA and the court decided that copyrights of all works of Osho are with the Foundation."
Is this true ?
Osho testified in a copyright case in the US during the Ranch that he had transferred his copyrights to Rajneesh Foundation India, not to RFI, as OIF claims. That's a reference to a 1978 license to RF India, formerly Jivan Jagruti Kendra. Technically, a license to use a copyright is a form of copyright transfer, so he was right, but that document doesn't transfer ownership of the copyright. OIF wants to pretend that Osho said RFI, instead of RF, so that it can pretend to authenticate it's "new" chain of title.
The ruling in the US copyright case applies only to RFI, and it's assigns (OIF) and to the defendant, Pat Lear. This is the US rule of law called res judicata. Lear's attorneys did a terrible job in that case and never even thought to read and challenge the licenses as copyright transfers. This is why res judicata exists, limiting the effect of judgments. If it wasn't there, people like OIF could set up dummy cases and get precedents set. The truth is that decision has no effect whatsoever on anyone else, and no competent attorney would ever lose a US copyright case on that evidence if handled properly.
Question then says:
"All of Osho’s works published by the different foundations and publishers from around the world carry clear copyright information and Osho personally received copies of each book for his personal library."
So, yes, Osho was very much involved with his books, so he must have seen the finished products. Indeed, in all of the books, there is a copyright notice, from the very beginning. These are e.g. © Jeevan Jagruti Kendra, © Rajneesh Foundation (International) and © Neo-Sannyas International. They are never © Chandra Mohan Jain or AR or BSR or OR or Osho. (All literal copyright notices for each edition can be found in the wiki Bibliography.
So it seems clear that Osho knew about copyrights and that he was aware that they were not in his name, but in the name of the organisations. That would mean that he wanted that to be so.
Even if this was maybe not legally water-tight, his intention is most relevant for this discussion.
First, keep in mind that Osho was not an attorney and was not advised by attorneys on this till Anando came along, and she knew very little about copyright law. Osho drafted, or directed the drafting, of the 1978 license agreement with JJK. That is our best indicator of Osho's intentions. In that document Osho kept control of all future publishing and put restrictions on what JJK could and couldn't do. The legal effect of this was to create a license. JJK, and later RF in India and RFI in the US, used this to put their own names on the books.
Having the names of alleged licensees on the books looks like they owned the copyrights, but Osho's document indicates it was only a license. I doubt very much Osho realized that having the name of the licensee on the book as copyright holder instead of his name was confusing. It would not have the effect of transferring the copyright when the document he signed did not transfer the rights.
It probably made sense to Osho to have JJK's name there as they were handling things.
All the indications are that Sheela forged, or had others forge, the documents that allegedly transfer the publishing license from RF India to RFI. When Osho returned to India he directed that all the copyright interests be returned to India, and Sheela's mess cleaned up. This would indicate that Osho did not agree to any form of transfer to RFI, and all of OIF's claims depend on a transfer to RFI. Osho consistently held that he had transferred rights to JJK and only JJK, and that's how he wanted it.
I worked in the same room as Anando in Pune II and overheard her tell Jayesh that Osho had refused to agree to have OIF (then RF Europe) claim to be the copyright holder. He wanted that handled in India. Osho was repeatedly adamant about having all copyright control stay in India.
Also keep in mind that Osho was the overseer of JJK, later RF, for his life, so a license to that entity, the only one Osho ever signed or that he testified about signing, meant that things remained under his control.
Jayesh "dealt" with Osho's refusal to give him control by renaming both RF Europe and RF India, Neo-Sannyas International, though they were two separate and unconnected legal entities. The books used that name as the copyright holder, but never gave an address. So when Osho saw the books in Pune II it appeared that his directions for keeping all copyright work in India was being followed. It was not until many years later that Jayesh began to claim it was OIF Switzerland that published the books and that Osho had approved that. I know for certain Osho did not approve that.
And if this is a wrong interpretation, and in fact Osho wanted all copyrights in his own name, then that would mean that after his death he wanted the copyrights to go to his estate. Did he want the copyrights to go to his biological family?
Osho's intentions are unclear, which is part of the problem. Osho may have thought that RF India would continue to control the copyrights after his death. He may also have realized that there would be a free-for-all and his copyrights could not be owned effectively by anyone. With Osho, it's always hard to tell. Ownership of copyright means an ability to control--change, edit, lose some books--all of which Osho may have wanted to avoid.
One thing is clear, and that is there is no reliable evidence that he ever transferred any rights to RFI or OIF Switzerland. It is also clear that he refused to transfer his copyrights into Jayesh's control on more than one occasion in Pune II.
Would OIF be able to substantiate their claim to the copyright of Osho's work in court?
Whether or not OIF can substantiate a copyright claim might depend on where the litigation takes place. I have been shocked to see how corrupt Spain and Switzerland are. I expected it of India, but not Europe. I would like to see it litigated in the US, where no, they definitely can't support a claim.

(Ma Prem Sangeet, 2016)

see also
The history of copyright claims for Osho’s work - claims and facts
Trademarks and copyright