Document 1 in Aid of
OIF's Copyright Claims
page is part
of the historical background relating to "What Is an
Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by
and circulated in 1998. A deconstruction of Amrito's paper is presented
on this site, introduced here. A
large subset of the
background addresses various aspects of OIF's claimed right
to control Osho's legacy, particularly regarding the legal muscle of
copyright and trademark. This
page discusses the first document OIF is using to justify their
copyright claims and makes clear its inadequacies and limitations. It
is sourced from Osho
Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal
An agreement dated 1978 and allegedly between Osho and Rajneesh
Foundation (RF) in India. The text on this page plus images of all the
pages of the document can be found at the OFI link above. For the other
docs, see here.
Document 1 was allegedly signed by Osho in India in 1978. No original
of this document is known to exist and there is no living person who
can authenticate a copy, as both Osho and Laxmi have left the body.
Unless it can be authenticated, this document can't be used in court to
support any claim to copyright ownership. This document is on file with
the US Library of Congress and is a public record.
The 1978 document purports to be a conditional license for exclusive
publishing rights in possibly eight of Osho's early works. The document
was filed with the US Library of Congress with a list of eight titles.
The list of titles appears on RFI stationary, therefore the list was
created later and was clearly not part of the purported agreement in
1978. It was filed with an affidavit signed by Ma Anand Sheela and
dated May 26, 1985. Sheela claimed to be acting under a power of
attorney from Osho (which she probably had at that time) and swore that
this list was an exact copy of the list Osho provided to RF in 1978.
Document 1 required Osho to give RF a list of titles He was including
in the license. Paragraphs 4 and 8 of Document 1 say:
The Declarant has given to the Trust a List of the books, articles and
writings so far written by the Declarant and shall as and when any
further books and articles are written, or any speeches are delivered,
he shall furnish copies thereof to the Trust to enable them to publish
the same as aforesaid.
8. The Declarant hereby reserves the right to decline to give right for
publication of any future book or writing hereafter written by him.
The only evidence of the list Osho might have produced under Document 1
is the list produced by Sheela in 1985. We don't have any records of
later works, if any, Osho chose to include in the license to RF.
Paragraph 8 makes it clear that Osho did not transfer rights in His
future works to RF in 1978, since this purported agreement specifically
reserves the right for Osho to include each future work by passing the
title to RF or exclude it from the license.
Since the list contained only eight titles, this was an admission by
RFI that Osho had not included most of the material He had already
spoken in the alleged license to RF. By 1978 Osho had delivered more
than 49 discourse series in English (See Osho
English Discourse Series Spoken Before the Alleged 1978 Document Was
Signed) and many others in Hindi, as well as material for several
books of talks to individuals in evening sessions [Darshan Diaries].
If Osho was licensing only eight discourse series to RF in 1978, that
document clearly did not cover most of His work up to that date. This
is yet another proof that Osho did not transfer ownership of all His
copyrights to RF. The discourse series Osho delivered before the date
of the 1978 document that do not appear on Sheela's list could never be
covered by any chain of title that relies on the 1978 document.
The titles Sheela listed were:
The Mustard Seed, I Am The Gate, 202, The Inward Revolution, The Silent
Explosion, Dynamics of Meditation, No Water, No Moon, Seeds of
The titles 202, The Inward Revolution, The Silent Explosion, and
Dynamics of Meditation, don't appear on English discourse lists. They
are likely compilations of early talks. Only four of the titles listed
were English discourse series. [Nearly
right: The Inward Revolution is an early title of Psychology of the
Because OIF, Zürich got all the rights it has from RFI, USA it is bound
by RFI's admission that the 1978 document covered only eight titles.
The list of titles is accompanied in the US Library of Congress filing
by an affidavit from Sheela dated 1985, yet RFI failed to list any
other titles that Osho had added to the license between 1978 and 1985.
The 1978 document grants only publishing rights. Part of the
introduction to the grant of rights says:
said Books, Discourses, Lectures, Pamphlets, Papers and Tape Records
are, in the premises, the property of the said Trust;
The Trustees of the said Trust have requested the Declarant to make
Declaration so as to enable the Trust to establish its title in the
said Books, Lectures, Pamphlets, Papers and Tape Records.
In other words, though RF may have owned the physical books and tape
recordings, it didn't own the intellectual property rights acquired by
Osho through creating the work. The foundation was asking Osho to make
clear what rights RF has in those intellectual property rights. In
response, Osho (allegedly) says:
say the exclusive printing and publishing rights in the said Books,
Articles, Speeches, Writings and other Works heretofore written or
delivered as the case may be by the Declarant and the Books, Articles,
Speeches, Writings and other Works to be hereafter written or delivered
by the Declarant (hereinafter referred to as "the said Works"), have or
shall be the property of the said Trust. The Trust has agreed to
conditions hereinafter appearing as regards the said Works.
The important legal question—assuming this document could ever be
legally authenticated—is whether this language transfers Osho's
copyright ownership in the works to RF, India. The answer is a decided
no, and that's because of the last sentence (in italics here), in
addition to other parts of the document. The first sentence is a little
bit ambiguous; is Osho granting just printing and publishing rights or
something more? The question is answered in the last sentence. When
copyrights are transferred there can be no conditions to the transfer.
When material is licensed, such as for printing and publishing, the
copyright owner can impose conditions. If there are conditions, as
there clearly are here, there can be no transfer of copyright ownership.
Copyrights are really a bundle of rights that include things like the
right to publish, the right to quote, the right to use in compilations,
the right to revise, the right to market. A copyright holder can
transfer a part of those right to others, in fact, most authors do.
A copyright includes the right to print and publish a work. Any writer
who is published by a publishing company transfers those rights to the
publisher, usually for a specified geographical area for a limited
time. For example, I might transfer publishing rights in a book in the
US, Canada, and Great Britain to Random House for a period of five
years. That's standard procedure in the publishing business. Random
House won't publish my book unless I give them those rights.
When I sign a publishing agreement, legally I'm giving the publisher a
license to publish my work subject to conditions or limitations. In
this example the limitations are the geographical areas and the time
period. The important thing about a license is that I still own all the
rights, even the rights I'm licensing. I get them back after the
license has run its course or if the conditions of the license are
A transfer of copyright ownership, on the other hand, is a complete
transfer of all copyright interests in the material and can't be taken
back. If I transfer legal ownership of something to another person, I
lose all control over that property. For example, if I sell you my car
I can't tell you who can drive it and what kind of insurance you have
to maintain, how often you have to change the oil, and so on. The car
isn't mine anymore and I have no further legal right to impose any
controls on how you use it. On the other hand, if I lease or rent my
car to you, I retain ownership rights in the car. I transfer rights to
use the car to you, so you have some temporary rights in the car, but I
retain ownership and the right to impose control. Now I can tell you
how to use, maintain, and insure the car. The car is mine, and if you
don't comply with my conditions, I can take the car back from you.
The same is true of copyrights. If I grant a license to publish I am,
in a sense, leasing my copyrights to the publisher, and I will get
those rights back eventually. If an agreement related to copyrights
sets conditions and limitation, then, it is clear that the document is
not transferring ownership. For that reason, the 1978 document can only
be a license.
This conclusion is further confirmed by paragraph 8 (reserving all
future rights), quoted above, and paragraph 12:
the Trust at any time wilfully fail to fulfill or to comply with any of
the conditions herein contained, the Licence to publish the said Works
shall thereupon determine [end] and the Declarant shall be free to
grant Licence to any other person to print and publish the same.
This makes it absolutely clear that Osho, if He signed this document,
was not transferring His full copyrights to RF, but giving RF a license
specifically conditioned on fulfilling certain requirements that are
set out in the agreement. These requirements include usual things like
payment of publishing costs, notice requirement, and presentation
copies, but they also include a very specific condition about
translations and abridgments (i.e. compilations). Paragraph 5 says:
Trust shall have the sole and exclusive right of publishing,
republishing and producing in any part of the world the said Works and
all translations, abridgments and licenses for the said purposes
PROVIDED HOWEVER no translation or abridgment shall be made except with
the written consent of the Declarant and on the terms imposed by him
and all such grants shall be subject to this Declaration...
As we saw above, paragraph 12 of this document says that the publishing
license shall end if these conditions are not met. OIF has purported to
approve the publication of many compilations. So, if OIF ever had any
publishing rights under this document, OIF has violated this provision
many times and those rights, if any, would most likely have ended.