Document 3 in Aid of OIF's Copyright Claims

This page is part of the historical background relating to "What Is an Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by Amrito 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 third 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 Main Page.

Document 3: An agreement dated 1981 allegedly between Rajneesh Foundation in India and Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center [RFI] in the US. 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.

The third document OIF relies on completely contradicts the second and is not credible for several reasons. Document 3 purports to be a transfer of copyright from RF in India to RFI in the US, dated April 1, 1981. We don't know if originals of this document are available. It appears to be signed by Yogend??? Manu? on behalf of Rajneesh Foundation and Asha Sipus on behalf of Chidvilas.

This document specifically claims (in the introduction) to transfer rights that RF got from Osho through Document 1. As we've already seen, RF did not get any copyright ownership through the 1978 document (assuming the 1978 document is valid). At most RF got a conditional exclusive right to publish eight works. Document 3 says in the first paragraph:

The Foundation [RF] assigns to Chidvilas [later RFI] all the Foundation's right, title, and interest in all existing and future works of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh…

This means that RF gave RFI what it got from Osho and nothing more. In this third document RF claims it has copyrights, but that assertion means nothing. RF has only what Osho gave it (if anything). If you loan me your car and I go around telling people it's my new car, that doesn't make it so. I have only the rights in the car that you gave me. The same is true here. RF could have given RFI only what Osho gave RF. Assuming both Documents 1 and 3 are authentic, that would be a conditional exclusive license to publish at most eight works.

This third document is questionable for several reasons. The first is that it completely contradicts the document allegedly signed by Osho in 1981 (Document 2). The 1981 Osho document claims that Osho still owns the copyrights and has the power to license publishing rights to RFI.  This would only be possible under the 1978 document if Osho had already ended the license to RF. If Osho had ended the license to RF before April 1, 1981, RF had nothing at all to transfer to RFI on that date.

The 1981 RF document (document 3), on the other hand, claims that RF owns the present and future copyrights and has the power to assign those rights to RFI in 1981. This claim and the claim of Osho to own His copyrights in 1981 can't both be true, and it's unlikely that these documents would have been drafted in this contradictory way if they were drafted at the same time.

The dates on the documents claim that they were both signed on the same day, April 1, 1981, while Osho and Manu were in India and Asha was in New Jersey, which is pretty much logistically impossible, given the technology available in 1981. It's much more credible that the 1981 Osho document (document 2) was created (whether or not actually signed by Osho) and circulated in 1981.

At some point someone may have realized that having Osho sign (or purporting to have Him sign) two versions of the same "assignment" document would prove that the documents were not assignments at all, but licenses. If document 2 was already in circulation, the only hope was to create a second alleged assignment from RF and date it the same day as the first 1981 document, in the hope of confusing things.

This ploy might save face a bit, but it can't be legally effective. The language of the 1978 document is still clearly the language of a license, not an assignment of copyright ownership, and no claims by RF to own a copyright could change that. RF couldn't have transferred copyrights in 1981 because it didn't get copyrights in 1978. At most RF got a license to publish eight works, and the purported 1981 Osho document (if authentic) indicated that Osho believed He had ended that license prior to April 1981.

There's also another suspicious aspect to the 1981 RF document (document 3). It tries to incorporate the alleged 1981 Osho document (document 2) into document 3 by claiming document 2 is an attachment to document 3:

There are several problems with this. First, the 1981 Osho document (document 2) isn't a declaration agreeing to an assignment by RF. It purports to be a license from Osho, who clearly believes He still owns the rights to His work. Second, Osho would only be licensing to RFI if He thought the license with RF was already ended. Third, if Osho had really assigned ownership of all copyrights to RF in 1978, He wouldn't need to agree to the assignment. He would only need to agree if RF was assigning rights under a license. A licensor (the person granting a license) has a right to prevent a licensee (the one receiving the license) from transferring the license to someone else without permission. So, the inclusion of permission from Osho is an indication that RF knew it could only transfer rights (if any) under a license.