The Book of Wisdom Editing, The Real Story

One of the issues that sannyasins have had against the management of the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune is concerning the editing of Osho’s discourses. As anyone who was around in Poona 1 knows there has always been a certain amount of editing, basically cleaning up of grammar and syntax (arrangement of words and phrases), etc.

And as I understand it before Osho left the body he asked that names and dates be removed from the discourses. Apparently wanting the discourses not to be held down by personalities or time.

But this editing reached a new level when the beautiful U.S. edition of The Book of Wisdom (both volumes combined into one) came out with three questions from chapter six missing. Personally, I did not have any issues with the editing that preceeded this but I have to admit I was dumbfounded by this one. I could see that the questions were all concerned with sannyas but there were hundreds of questions in other discourses that did as well. So why these?

And this instance also got wrapped up into the outrage over people’s inability of sharing Osho because of copyright and then there was  all of the kerfuffle concerning the Centers and the OSHO trademark. These issues I cannot speak to but I did manage to get to the bottom of The Book of Wisdom.

Yesterday for some reason out of the blue I decided to reach out to Sarito who I knew was intimately involved with the editing of Osho’s books in Pune 2 to ask her if she knew what the story was.

Actually, she was surprised to hear that there were three questions missing and at first assumed that it must have been an error, but she decided to investigate further.

What she found out was that it indeed was a mistake. Someone took the instructions about making the discourse timeless too enthusiastically. This person thought that they should remove the reference to orange and preferred seating in order to make it “contemporary” but Sarito remembers that the criteria was to be more “timeless.”

Anyway this book ended up getting published with the questions missing. But Sarito told me that after that “there was a special meeting called to clarify that there was no need to edit Osho in this way, and that henceforth if things seemed too puzzling or ‘dated’ they could be addressed with an introductory editorial note.”

And she went on to say “that the mistake was identified and resolved and that it won’t happen again.” But she also told me that “they were struggling with a surplus of inventory of the book.”

I explained that probably one of the reasons they are struggling with surplus inventory is the word had gone out that the book had been edited in this way and sannyasins were not happy about it. I also suggested that this story should be told just to clear the air on at least this issue. So here we are.

Everyone agrees that the questions should remain and will be put back into any reprints. In the meantime, how do we use up the surplus inventory? Perhaps gifts to libraries or prisons.

-purushottama

Osho Copyright, Trademark and the Right to Copy

Through the years I have followed many discussions concerning Osho and the copyrights of his discourses. Many of these discussions have been filled with venom. And recently these discussions seemed to have reached a new level of ugliness. And a lot of this ill feeling is being stoked by those who should know better.

From 1981 to 1986 I worked with the books both on the road selling to bookstores and distributors all across the United States and Canada and also when back at the ranch in Buddhaghosha which was the department that took care of selling and warehousing all of Osho’s books. Many friends worked in this office including Swami Chaitanya Keerti, Ma Dharma Jyoti, and two of Osho’s brothers; Amit and Shailendra.

One of the jobs that was done from that office was the sending of copies of Osho’s books to the United States Copyright Office, the Library of Congress and for receiving ISBN numbers. Every one of Osho’s books was sent to be registered for copyright protection.

Interestingly enough, by law in the United States, it is not even necessary to send copies of works for copyright because they are automatically protected once they have been produced but it does add a layer of protection in case there is ever any question as to who is the holder of such copyright.

In these discussions that can be seen on the internet, there are those who claim that Osho never wanted his works to be copyright protected. But they do so only by ignoring the obvious. You can look inside every book that was produced in Poona and see Copyright, Rajneesh Foundation. Every one of the booklets that I have seen from the days before the Poona Ashram said, Copyright Jeevan Jagruti Kendra. The copyrights moved from one organization to another always following Osho. When Osho left the United States, a new organization was formed Osho International Foundation and it then became the holder of Osho’s copyrights.

One of our legal friends has argued that when the Ranch ended and the new organization O. I. F. was formed, that because it was such a chaotic time, there was a lapse in making the transfer from one entity to the other and so argues that because of this there is some doubt as to whether it was done properly. Now this may be a clever legal argument but it only highlights the fact that Osho’s works have always been copyrighted. And though, it is possible that there may have been some oversight it is clear that the intent was to transfer the copyrights. I suspect that this is the reason that someone came up with the creative idea to create a will in order to correct this lapse of filing. Now anyone can argue that this was not the most ingenious idea but personally I cannot fault anyone for trying to ensure that the copyright protection continues.

Osho never took the stand that he didn’t want any copyright as did U.G. Krishnamurti. U. G. says clearly that his words are not subject to copyright but Osho has had every one of his works printed with the words Copyright. And personally, I am grateful that he had the foresight to make sure that his words were protected. It would have been much less of an issue while he was in the body, because he could have spoken out, but once gone the only protection against any Tom, Dick or Harry writing nonsense in Osho’s name is the copyright protection.

If one wants to argue about the enforcement of copyright that is another story but to argue that Osho didn’t want his works to be under copyright protection is absurd. Clearly there is a lot of room as to how stringently to enforce. I recently saw that the producers of Wild, Wild Country and Osho International Foundation reached an agreement and that now the documentary states by permission of OIF.

As far as the trademark OSHO, there seems to be a lot of confusion. First of all, there was no trademark granted in the United States but it was upheld in Europe. And it is only the use of all caps OSHO that is trademarked. I am pretty sure that at the time of the ranch the two birds symbol was trademarked.

Now where I have objections is how the trademark law is being applied. There were trademarks while Osho was in the body but I am not aware of them ever being used to control the activities of his meditation centers. But that is a question of management style and there has always been objections to management style. In Poona people objected to the way that Deeksha operated, at the Ranch it was Sheela that was objectionable and these days of course it is the way that Jayesh operates that people find objectionable.

So, I would encourage anyone who wants to object to the workings of the Pune organization, to object honestly. It is a question of agreeing or not agreeing with management decisions and it has nothing to do with such high falutin sounding principles of “Osho never wanted any copyrights.”

Osho could not be clearer than this discourse on the need for copyright protection:

“Now there are many countries…. Just yesterday, a Korean woman was here, and she informed us that more than thirty of my books are translated into Korean, and thousands of copies are available in all the bookstalls all over the country. We have to take care of things. There are countries which are not members of the Bern Convention: they do not believe in copyright. Korea is one of those that do not believe in copyright, so they can translate any book, publish any book.

But we can at least keep an eye that the translation is done rightly, that the person who is doing the translation understands me. It is not only a question of copyright, it is a question that I should not be presented in a wrong way — which is possible. Because if they are just earning money, who cares whether the translation is right or wrong?

I informed the woman, “You send…” Because we don’t even know: it may be happening in other countries. There are many countries which are not under the copyright convention. But we can help them, we can suggest to them, ”We don’t want any money from you, any royalty from you, but we would like you to represent every book exactly, without any distortion. And in many countries we will have to take publication into our own hands.”

from Light on the Path, Discourse #28

Prem Purushottama

Osho: Your Right to Publish

Osho: Your Right to Publish

By Ma Dhyan Anandita

Several people have asked me, over the years, about the issue of using quotations from Osho in their articles, stories, books. This is because I am a lawyer dealing with – among other things – intellectual property rights, so I have some familiarity with the issue of copyright. I’ve given personal advice, but never made a public statement until now.

Ramateertha’s interview on the trademark issue inspires me to speak out. Of course, the attempt to trademark “Osho” is absurd. It’s like the Vatican saying, “You can’t use the name ‘Jesus’ without our permission.”

However, the copyright issue is different. I respect the attempt by Osho International Foundation to safeguard the integrity of Osho’s discourses. In their shoes, I’d probably do the same. But, like all organizations, they tend to extend their concern beyond its legitimate boundaries.

As I understand the situation, many requests have gone to OIF over the years, asking to use Osho quotes in various kinds of publications… books, memoirs, people’s personal stories about meeting Osho, etc. Almost invariably, OIF wants to see the proposal, assess its worth and give or withhold permission.

I want to make a clear statement: you have the legal right to publish Osho quotes. You do not need to ask OIF. Your right to Osho’ s words is safeguarded by the legal framework of “fair use” that has been adopted in the United States and in most other countries.

The US is signatory to the Berne Convention, an international agreement governing copyright, which goes back to 1886. Almost all countries around the world are also signatories. The function of the convention is to protect the rightful owners of literary and artistic works.

However, even before the convention, common law in both the US and Britain upheld the right to fair abridgement and fair use. This right was strengthened under US law by the Copyright Act of 1976.

One of the key issues in permitting “fair use” is public interest.

For example, Osho is a public and controversial figure. He might well be described as one of the most radical philosophers of the twentieth century. Therefore, it greatly benefits the public to understand him from as many different perspectives as possible.

Let’s say, I’m totally opposed to Osho’s teachings and regard him as a danger to society. I want to write a book showing how immoral and subversive are his teachings.

Now, clearly, OIF is never going to give permission for a book like that. But, equally clearly, it is in the public interest to have access to my views, since it broadens the public’s general understanding about Osho and his work. It encourages debate and discussion.  It widens the public’s knowledge about a controversial figure.

So, with full legal protection, I can use long quotations from Osho in my book, refuting each of his statements as I go along, and OIF cannot do anything about it. If they take me to court, they are certain to lose.

Similarly, if you have personal stories about Osho, or if you want to use Osho quotes in your book, you do not need permission to do so. Why? Because your use of Osho, in your particular context, is broadening public understanding about this controversial mystic.

You’re adding to the body of knowledge that is available to the public about Osho. The chat you had with him, over a cup of tea in Woodlands in 1973, or the relevance of his vision to your book on quantum physics, deepens the public’s understanding of this extraordinary man.

If Osho had been a very private man, things would be different. But he was not. On the contrary, he made every effort during his life to become as widely known and as notorious as possible. Parodying Dale Carnegie, Osho once said that his biography should be called “How To Make Enemies And Influence People.”

Osho’s public stature is your protection.

If you want to play safe, then keep each quotation under 300 words, because this has been adopted as a general “fair use” guideline. But longer quotes will also be okay, especially if you break them up into short sections of direct quotations, while paraphrasing in between.

In my view, OIF does have legitimate concerns over copyright when it comes to publishing complete discourses by Osho, and whole discourse series in book form. Here, I understand their intention to protect the integrity of his words.

Here, too, the law will not offer you so much protection, since publishing whole books directly affects the commercial value of the copyright holder. You’re no longer criticizing, or commenting, or adding new perspectives. You’re trying to supersede the original work.

Then you will be faced with the task of proving that OIF is not the legitimate copyright holder, which is a totally different ball-game.

Credit also has to be given to OIF’s dedication to keeping Osho’s archive of discourses updated. The process of digitalizing his video and audio recordings, making them available on DVD, via the internet, and so on… It shows a genuine desire to keep Osho’s work intact and alive. So they have good reasons for acting the way they do.

But for those of you who just want to write about their personal memories, or use a quote here and there, or talk about Osho’s views on various subjects… have no fear. Feel free to quote the Great Rebel. He’s public property and your right to comment will be protected under the law.

Anandita practices law in Chicago and has been a sannyasin since 2002.

A Copyright on Stupidity – Osho

Just don’t misunderstand me. Whatever I say is possible always to be misunderstood, because I am not talking about the ordinary world of things and objects. I am talking about the inner world of consciousness and being.

Just today a letter has arrived from Germany. Our sannyasins are doing a meditation called The Four Directions. The letter says, “In your commune people are doing a meditation called The Four Directions, and we have the copyright over it.”

I have told Neelam, my secretary, to write to them, “Things can be copyrighted, thoughts cannot be copyrighted, and certainly meditations cannot be copyrighted. They are not things of the marketplace.”

Nobody can monopolize anything. But perhaps the West cannot understand the difference between an objective commodity and an inner experience.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has copyrighted transcendental meditation and just underneath in a small circle you will find written TM – that means trademark!

For ten thousand years the East has been meditating and nobody has put trademarks upon meditations. And above all, that transcendental meditation is neither transcendental nor meditation… just a trademark.

I have told Neelam to reply to these people, “You don’t understand what meditation is. It is nobody’s belonging, possession. You cannot have any copyright. Perhaps if your country gives you trademarks and copyrights on things like meditation, then it will be good to have a copyright on stupidity. That will help the whole world to be relieved… Only you will be stupid and nobody else can be stupid; it will be illegal.”

I am going to direct my people here that they do the meditation called The Four Directions. But there are eight directions not four! Start doing the meditation Eight Directions – and certainly under eight directions, their four directions also come in. But apart from their stupid letters and their stupid government which gives copyrights for such inner experiences, the truth is that consciousness cannot be either four directions or eight directions. Consciousness is a circle: no directions. It is neither directing to the north nor directing to the south.

It simply is a circle. So my suggestion to you is that the best will be to call it “No Directions.”

We are going to sue those idiots who think they have a copyright over consciousness, in the courts in Germany. Then we can get a copyright over enlightenment. Then nobody can become enlightened, unless we license him.

-Osho

Excerpt from Om Shantih Shantih Shantih, Chapter 26

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.