Document 5 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 fifth 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 5: An agreement dated 1986 allegedly between RFI and RFE [OIF]. 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 last document that OIF has filed with the US Library of Congress in alleged support of its copyright claims to Osho's work is a 1986 agreement between RFI and RFE [later OIF]. This is a public record and an original may be available. The document says:

1. RFI hereby assigns to RFE all of RFI's right, title, and interest in all copyrights to religious magazines and newsletters, audiotapes and videotapes of religious music and celebrations, and religious photographs, cards, posters, and other similar items, and all the profit…

5. Within twenty (20) days after the execution of this Agreement by both parties, RFI shall provide RFE with a schedule of all of the copyrights assigned under this Agreement…

So, what if anything, does this transfer to OIF? This agreement has nothing to do with Osho's copyrights in His work. It concerns only the rights RFI might have had in what was produced on the Ranch, such as rights in the Rajneesh Times that was published there, in photographs that were taken on the Ranch, or in music audios and videos made there.

RFI assigned the rights it owned to OIF, but that leaves the question: What interests did RFI really own in any of that? At this point in time, with many records lost, it will be very difficult for OIF to prove any specific ownership under this agreement. There were several legal entities involved in operations on the Ranch. Perhaps the most significant in this situation is the Rajneesh Neo-Sannyas International Commune (RNSIC). Most of the actual work done on the Ranch was done under the auspices of RNSIC. The people who produced newspapers, made recordings, took photographs, created cards, performed music, participated in celebrations and so on, were usually working through RNSIC in some capacity.

It will be extremely difficult at this point to determine the work status of the individuals involved. Some were members of RNSIC, legally resident in the US with a work permit. Others were visitors who were simply volunteering their time during their stay. Those visitors might have been residents of the US or of a foreign country.

Under US law a person who creates a copyrightable work while employed by another owns the rights to that work unless he or she has signed over his or her rights before the project was done in what's called a work for hire agreement. So, in order to prove that RFI owned the creative work produced on the Ranch, OIF would have to identify the person(s) who produced the work in question and show that they had signed work for hire agreements for the work before the work was completed. If the person(s) doing the work had signed work for hire agreements with RNSIC, RNSIC also would have had to assign those copyrights in the creative work to RFI. It's very unlikely any of this happened or can be proved at this point.

So, this final agreement transfers no rights in Osho's work whatsoever, and is too vague to transfer any useable rights in other work. At best, it applies only to work produced on the Ranch and has absolutely nothing to do with work produced in Pune and elsewhere. This document has nothing to do with any works created after 1986, or in reality, 1985, since RFI stopped operations in 1985.