Letter from Jacques Weiss to Robert Burton
Continuing discussion of copyright issues
Jacques Weiss R.
le 9 ARIL 1975
With notice of copyright
Mr. Bob BURTON
Coon Hollow Road
R3 THREE RIVERS
(Note: And…thanks for your last letter just received. I think you should go ahead with your book about the U.F. J.W.)
Dear Bob, Thanks for your letter of March 30th relating your visit to Washington. You say that the Copyright Office agreed with you that where the author is undisclosed, the work is in the public realm and not entitled to copyright. My lawyers are absolutely unwilling to go ahead on this affirmation, unless it is substantiated by a written letter from the Copyright Office itself. Otherwise, it remains words and opinions. The advisors are not the payers.
On the other hand, I possess a photocopy of the Application for copyright of the Urantia Foundation, regularly registered under Class A, n 216 389, and dated January 3rd, 1956, the first day on which the Ur. Book was sold publicly. It states that the Book was printed in the USA with USA plates, etc… The application is valid for 28 years (until January 1984) and renewable for another 28 years.
The printed form of application specifies the following: “ For purposes of registration, Class A Books include all copyrightable material not appropriately classified in one of the other classes enumerated in the Copyright Law…Copyright of literary material is secured by publication of the work with notice of copyright owner…”
This form mentions the Urantia Foundation as authors. This is obviously not true, since the Book itself mentions that it was completed in 1935, at a time where the Foundation did not exist. But this point could be endlessly discussed, since the Foundation has altered the original text, and the original manuscript has been destroyed, probably for that purpose.
So the Foundation may claim that they are the authors of the new text. In spirit, it is false. But according to the letter, the judges may take it as good, although it is obviously contradicted by the text itself mentioning the unseen authors. What would be the reaction of a court if you claim the rights of unseen authors? It may well be that they would say: “We deal only with physically visible works and are bound to ignore invisible beings. The Foundation has done the physical work. They are entitled to the physical reward”.
So the affair must be settled by a lawsuit or by a letter from the Copyright Office stating that the contents of the Book are contradictory with the statement of authorship by the Foundation.
Outside of legal considerations, I feel that the pressure on the Foundation is slowly growing towards a settlement.