Setting the Record Straight
Traditionally the Trustees and staff of Urantia Foundation have seldom responded to attacks and allegations made by their critics, because history has shown us that argument is often futile. However, as some of our critics continue their attacks, and as there has been a request by many who honestly wish to hear our position on such allegations, we felt it was time to present you with our view of the facts in response to some of the allegations. May we ever bear in mind that someone who has good debating skills can present convincing, but invalid arguments. The wise man gathers, sorts, and analyzes all the facts and then draws his own conclusions.
1. The Foundation lied about the authorship of The Urantia Book.
The definition of "authorship" for copyright purposes is not the same as the generally understood definition. When a book is written by an anonymous author or authors, or is a composite work of multiple authors, it is customary that the publisher be denominated as "the author" on copyright application forms and with "Books-in-Print."
In 1993, Thomas A. Kendall, a former Trustee and President of Urantia Foundation, who served on the Board of Trustees for 20 years, delivered a talk on Urantia Foundation's copyrights and registered marks in which he said the following:
Throughout the 20 years I served on the Board of Trustees of Urantia Foundation, every lawyer we consulted was a specialist in the field of copyright or mark law.... We were completely forthcoming and shared everything we knew about the origin of the book. The Trustees did not conspire to hoodwink the copyright office in the renewal of the copyright in 1983. No reputable attorney colluded with the Foundation to perpetrate a fraud...
In 1983 the Foundation chose to renew the copyright registration, characterizing the book as a "work for hire." This was done because the "Table of Contents" was designed by a human being (Bill Sadler, Jr.) working for the Foundation. Never did the Foundation claim that Bill Sadler, Jr., was the actual author of the papers. Kristen Maaherra's lawyer argued that, because Bill Sadler did not author any of the Papers himself, The Urantia Book was not a "work for hire" and the Foundation's copyright registration renewal should be declared invalid. The Foundation argued, among other things, that the phrase "work for hire" under the 1909 copyright laws included a variety of relationships other than employer-employee, and other than relationships where the author is paid by the proprietor (The 1976 Copyright Act, which is more restrictive, did not apply to works that were originally copyrighted prior to 1978.)
The Foundation emphasized among other things the fact it raised the money necessary to print The Urantia Book under notice of copyright. Nevertheless, Judge Urbom of the Federal District Court in Phoenix, Arizona, ruled the Foundation's copyright to be invalid not because it was designated a work made for hire but because there was no document of assignment, transferring the rights in the Urantia Papers from the authors to the Urantia Foundation. Judge Urbom also held, contrary to those cases relied upon by the Foundation, that a traditional employer-employee relationship must exist for the "work for hire" doctrine to apply.
However, after the Foundation appealed the case, three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the lower court. They said that the book was copyrightable as a composite work, if not a work for hire (and held that the error in listing the book as a "work for hire" was immaterial to the claim of copyright since adequate grounds for copyright existed regardless of how the work was characterized.) The Court also held that the Declaration of Trust instrument clearly established the Foundation's proprietorship of The Urantia Book prior to and at the time of publication, vesting the initial copyright in the book in the Foundation.
During the time that the Urantia Papers were being materialized, there was significant involvement by the members of the "Forum." Papers came as a response to questions submitted by the members of the Forum. Without their questions, there would be no Urantia Papers. That claim is based on a statement made by Dr. Sadler, who said in a history that he wrote:
We sorted out these questions, discarding duplicates, and in a general way, classifying them. Shortly thereafter, the first Urantia Paper appeared in answer to these questions. From first to last, when the Papers appeared, the questions disappeared. This was the procedure followed throughout the many years of the reception of the Urantia Papers. No questions -- no Papers.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the human element involved in the work and ruled, therefore, that The Urantia Book was copyrightable as a composite work.
2. Based on a deposition given in the Maaherra trial by Bernard Dietz, (a onetime head of the Renewal Division of the Copyright Office,) it has been said that had the true facts been known (that the book was authored by non-human spiritual entities,) the court would not have upheld the renewal of the Foundation's copyright. By implication, the Foundation therefore deceived the Copyright Office and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Allegations continue to be raised that the renewal copyright was only upheld due to deception on the part of the Foundation and that the court would have ruled differently if the Foundation had been forthright in describing the authorship of the book. Anyone making such allegations is either ignorant of the true facts or chooses to deliberately mislead others concerning the true facts. The decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a public record (available to anyone interested at their web site: http://laws.findlaw.com/9th/9517093.html.) The decision makes clear that the Court was fully apprised of the celestial authorship of the book when it upheld the Foundation's renewal copyright. In its decision the court states:
Central to an understanding of the case is the history, as perceived by both parties, of the creation of the Book. Both parties believe that the words in the Book were "authored" by non-human spiritual beings described in terms such as the Divine Counselor, the Chief of the Corps of Superuniverse Personalities, and the Chief of the Archangels of Nebadon.
The court specifically addressed Maahara's allegations concerning alleged fraud in obtaining the copyright as follows:
Maaherra asserts that the Foundation did not want to reveal to the Copyright Office that the "authors" were celestial beings because the Copyright Office would have rejected the application.
There is no merit to this contention. The Foundation deposited two copies of the Book with the Copyright Office. The Book clearly describes its own origin as having been created at the instance of "Planetary celestial supervisors [who initiated] those petitions that resulted in the granting of the mandates making possible the series of revelations of which this presentation is a part." We conclude that there has been no fraud on the Foundation's part, and no prejudicial reliance on Maaherra's part.
We therefore hold that the Foundation's renewal copyright is valid, and that Maaherra infringed it.
3. How Can You Copyright a Revelation?
This question has been asked time and time again by the critics of Urantia Foundation. It is important to differentiate between the "revelation" and the material book, which is the tool by which the revelation was delivered. The fifth epochal revelation is the living truths experienced in the hearts, minds, and souls of the individuals who embrace the teachings and apply them to their every day lives. The Urantia Book is a physical object, a material "thing." There is no copyright in a truth; there is no copyright in a meaning. Truth is living, intangible experience-reality. Only something that is material, such as a book or a composite work enjoys copyright protection, and is eligible for copyright registration.
By registering the copyright in The Urantia Book the Foundation merely attempts to insure that the words, as they were delivered, would be kept intact, that the text would be kept inviolate. Without having the words to read in the format and context in which they were presented, we would not have the opportunity to experience the wholeness of the truth of the revelation. The Foundation wants to ensure that the words are kept inviolate so that future generations will have them as they were presented to us and not in a fragmented, distorted, or dismembered form.
In any book there are two distinct things: 1) the ideas developed in the book, and 2) the expression in which these ideas are described. What is subject to copyright is the expression (i.e., the text). For instance, text of the poetry used by Teilhard de Chardin to describe his philosophy enjoys copyright protection, but the philosophy itself does not. What is not subject to copyright is idea. Anyone can use, live, or write by his philosophy, but a copyright ensures that the text of a work, like that of Teilhard de Chardin is not changed or dismembered without authorization. But the philosophy developed in the book is intended for the individual who ultimately grasps the teachings and integrates them in his or her daily life.
The copyright in the original English text of The Urantia Book is crucial for the spreading of the teachings worldwide through accurate, faithful, and fluent translations. It is the duty of Urantia Foundation to control the quality of the translations in order to deliver to the people of the world translations that reflect, as accurately as possible, the teachings of the revelation. This would not be possible without the copyright registration.
4. What Could Happen if there was no Copyright in The Urantia Book?
We know that some people would like to change the words in The Urantia Book. For example:
If the Foundation did not have, and enforce, a copyright there would be no way of stopping people from taking the actions described above. People would be free to distort and dismember the original text before it had a chance to take hold in a meaningful way in the world. Who among us is qualified to question the revelators' motives for using the words they used? Who among us has the right independently to take the future course of the revelation into their own hands, according to their own ideas? Eve's mistake should serve as a lesson against such error.
5. Was copyrighting The Urantia Book mandated by the Revelators?
It has been stated that the Foundation said in its Special Report that the copyright was a human plan (implying, therefore, that it was not mandated by the Revelators). This fact is used by some individuals to argue that the Trustees made a mistake when they decided to register the copyright in The Urantia Book. These individuals use this argument to justify their infringing of the Foundation's copyright in The Urantia Book. When the Special Report was written, the Foundation only rarely alluded to midwayer instructions. And yet, those individuals who were involved in the early years knew that such instructions existed because many of these instructions were shared by the early leaders with Forum members. These instructions were often quoted in papers written and speeches made by early leaders of the Foundation and the Brotherhood.
The validity of these instructions was never questioned. Dr. Sadler wrote a history, which he never published but shared with some readers. (This history has since been published by the Jesusonian Foundation and is on the Fellowship's Web site.) In this history, Dr. Sadler said:
The [Contact] Commissioners were the custodians of the Urantia manuscript, keeping the carbon copy of the typewritten transcript in a fireproof vault. They were also charged with full responsibility for supervising all the details connected with the publication of the Book, securing the international copyrights, etc.
Accordingly, in the 1930s, the Contact Commissioners initiated correspondence with the United States Copyright Office in an effort to obtain a copyright which would protect The Urantia Book "against infringement for an indefinite period." There are copies of correspondence, dated 1932, between the Foundation and the Copyright Office, in the Foundation's files.
Also, in her "A History of the Urantia Movement," (1980) Emma L. Christensen (a Contact Commissioner commonly known as Christy) wrote the following:
The Contact Commissioners handed the responsibility for publishing the book over to Urantia Foundation. We can safely conjecture that, given the information shared by Dr. Sadler and Christy, the objectives of Urantia Foundation and the duties of the Trustees stated in the Declaration of Trust were the way to ensure that the guidance (or instructions) given by the Revelators was made official via the trust document. We refer to the instructions because, in recent years, certain individuals and organizations caused doubt to be cast on the validity of, and the need for, the Foundation's custodial role.
Long-time readers, who are familiar with the Foundation's history confirm that such instructions existed. Some opponents of the copyright discredit them because acknowledging them would mean acknowledging the need for, and the importance of, the copyright. Nevertheless, even without the evidence of the instructions from the Revelators, we believe the other reasons cited above provides a reasonable justification for the Foundation's having a copyright in the book.
6. Why the Foundation needs the registered marks.
Urantia Foundation holds, as registered marks, the words "Urantia" and "Urantian" as well as the Concentric-Circles Symbol. After the Foundation's copyright in The Urantia Book expires, there may be multiple publishers of The Urantia Book. Some of them may publish something other than the inviolate text. But the inviolate text, published by Urantia Foundation, will be identifiable because it alone will rightly bear the name Urantia Foundation and the Concentric-Circles Symbol.
Urantia Foundation has used the Concentric-Circles Symbol as a stand-alone, registered mark since 1950. The marks are used to identify in foreign countries 1) the authenticity of The Urantia Book and its translations, 2) the existence of a new revelation, distinct from other confusing beliefs, 3) the presence of Urantia Foundation's offices and representatives, and 4) the existence of an organized group of believers in the teachings of The Urantia Book worldwide, a group who work in cooperation with the Foundation to disseminate the teachings.
If these symbols were not registered by Urantia Foundation or were in the public domain, they could be used to give credibility to publications, activities, and organizations either promoting distorted personal interpretations of The Urantia Book or having little or nothing to do with its teachings. As there was, and still is, little understanding in the world as to what these symbols mean, it is important that their significance be protected and preserved until there is a wider understanding of the teachings by more of the world's population.
By registering as marks the words "Urantia" and "Urantian," the Foundation has prevented "Urantia" from being associated with ventures, such as: Urantia Health Massage (a house of prostitution), Urantia Cocktail Lounge, Urantia Trading Company, and a race horse named Urantia Ruler! If the marks were in the public domain, and a brothel appropriated them as part of its name, how would the reputation of The Urantia Book be affected?
The Foundation considers the registered marks to be appropriate and fitting symbols to identify the fifth epochal revelation. The recently announced copyright and trademark policies from the Foundation give individuals the freedom to use the marks for their personal use if they have a desire to do so. They are available from the foundation upon request.
7. The Foundation defaulted in its trust because the Trustees made changes to the text after the first printing.
While there is no official documentation as to the reason for some of the changes made after the first printing of The Urantia Book, we know from analyzing the changes (see the Foundation's brochure: "Changes to the Text") that most of the changes were typographical in nature. We have reason to believe that none of the more significant changes were made without approval from the revelators. A second generation reader and former Forum member who lived in Chicago during the early years said in relation to this subject:
"Every effort was made by Christy to type correctly from the manuscript, but there probably were still errors. She typed the entire book at least three times; parts of it five times. Christy and Bill Sadler, both Contact Commissioners and Trustees, invited everyone in the Forum to look for errors in the galley proofs we studied before the book was published, as well as in the first printing. The procedure to change errors was for the contact commissioners to correct misspellings, capitalizations and punctuations, using Webster's dictionary and Chicago Manual of Style as their authorities. Anything more serious or complex had to be submitted to the superhuman Revelatory Commission by any of the living Contact Commissioners for permission to change it. The Trustees never changed anything on their own. In fact, the Contact Commissioners could not change anything major without revelator permission. The last typescript, which probably had a number of errors, was destroyed after the text was plated, cross-checked, and believed to be free of mistakes. Bill Sadler hoped that readers would find all the "gremlins" at least by the third printing."
Human beings, employees of the printer R.R. Donnelley, typeset the text from the typescript. The first Trustees undoubtedly felt it their duty to oversee the correction of errors in the first printing. The Foundation was not being secretive by not publishing the corrections. It is true that the corrections were not published until 1993. Why? Because it was a non-issue in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s. People trusted the early leaders. It wasn't until Christy died, when no Contact Commissioner was around to defend the actions of the Contact Commission, that some readers made an issue of alleged changes to the text. We must pose the question to those who knew of the integrity of these individuals: would Dr. Sadler and Christy have made such changes without good reason?
8. The Foundation lied in court: Because of various statements made by Foundation representatives in court rooms, the Foundation, by implication, has been accused by its critics of lying in court. 1) The Executive Director of the Foundation said she did not know who wrote the book, 2) A Foundation attorney once allegedly said that The Urantia Book is not a religious book, and 3) the Foundation denied the book was a revelation.
Anyone who knows the Trustees and the Foundation's Executive Director knows that they do this work out of a love for the revelation. They are all students of The Urantia Book and believe the book is what it claims to be: "a religious revelation of epochal significance." When, during a cross-examination, a lawyer asked the Foundation's Executive Director, "Do you know who wrote The Urantia Book?" she said, "No." We believe that others may also have answered "no" under similar circumstances. We do not personally know any of the authors, all of whom, except for four, are anonymous (they are identified only by order of being: a Divine Counselor for example.)
Regarding the Foundation's attorney saying that the book was not a religious book, the statement should be viewed in the context in which it was made. Court transcripts do not capture non-verbal communication. In verbal communication people use words and string sentences together in conversation differently from the way they write them. Words used in conversation are clarified by non-verbal language such as tone and body language. What follows are quotes from pages 44 and 45 of the court transcripts of proceedings in Federal District Court of Arizona in Phoenix on March 7, 1991. (Mr. Fochler was the Foundation's attorney at the time.)
Ms. Maaherra: It's my understanding that the book went into -- it's not copyrighted any more, that that ran out, and that that's why they are starting to list themselves as the authors of the book, and so forth in Books-In-Print.
That's the word -- I'm trying to think -- you know, it's a religious work in the public domain at this point.
The Court: Let me explain this. If that's your defense, you're going to have to be able to kind of prove that.
Now Mr. Fochler up here is going to tell me something about the book and whether or not it is or is not in the public domain and whether the copyright is expired.
Mr. Fochler: Your Honor, we submitted with Mr. Myer's declaration with the copyright registration certificate, a certificate of renewal. The copyright's in full force and effect.
If Ms. Maaherra has been looking at any books, she sees a copyright notice on it.
But, Your Honor, I think the most telling aspect of this, if you think the book's really in the public domain, and, by the way, it's not a religious book [Mr. Fochler contends he thought he'd said: "it's not just a religious book," which agrees with the testimony he gave one week later, presented below]. It's got a lot of historical, scientific?
Then, in the same court, before the same judge, one week later, on March 15, 1991, the following was said, and this is from page 23 of the transcripts of the court proceedings:
Mr. Fochler: The book clearly has some religious subject matter, but from the materials we submitted, Your Honor, it's got scientific subject matter. It's got historical subject matter. It's got subject matter on cosmology.
In regard to the argument that the Foundation denied the book to be a revelation, below is an extract from the Foundation's Special Report, published in 1989, relating to the case against the "Center for Urantia Book Synergy" (C.U.B.S.) where this subject was first raised in court. This gives a clear picture of the Trustees' position at the time, and why they dealt with the matter the way they did. It is reproduced here to show how a former Board of Trustees chose to deal with the unpleasant situation of having to argue about The Urantia Book in a court of law. Whether the current Board would have used this strategy is impossible to say. What is relevant, however, is that it was done many years ago, and we need to move forward knowing that the Foundation has always acted in a manner in which the Trustees felt, at the time, was in the best interest of the revelation.
C.U.B.S.' Accusations Respecting the Meaning of Urantia Foundation's Answer to C.U.B.S.' Counterclaim.
In the summer 1989 issue of the Synergist, C.U.B.S. attempted to gain public support for its attack on Urantia Foundation and its Trustees by distorting the formal pleadings filed in its lawsuit. The most flagrant distortions involve Urantia Foundation's answer to C.U.B.S.' counterclaim. When responding to C.U.B.S.' charges, Urantia Foundation was limited, by law, to 1) admitting that it knew, rather than believed, that statements made in C.U.B.S.' counterclaim were true facts; 2) denying that the statements were true, as a matter of fact; or 3) stating that it did not have such knowledge or information -- in which case the statements were treated for evidentiary purposes in the lawsuit, and for no other purposes and in no other context, as having been denied. Legal rules of pleading make no provision for situations in which the party responding to a statement believes it is true but does not have concrete evidence that it is true. C.U.B.S. was aware of the above facts but ignored them in making misleading accusations based upon Urantia Foundation's responses to certain of C.U.B.S.' claims which were not capable of objective proof and which, therefore, could not be admitted or denied as matters of fact.
For example, C.U.B.S.' claims in the summer 1989 issue of the Synergist that "Urantia Foundation denies The Urantia Book is the Fifth Epochal Revelation and that Urantia is our planet's name." The basis for the first part of this accusation is Urantia Foundation's response to C.U.B.S.' pleading as a matter of fact, rather than belief, that:
The Urantia Book is the Fifth Epochal Revelation to the planet Urantia, also known as the planet earth (Paragraph 10 of C.U.B.S.' Counterclaim.)
As C.U.B.S. knows, all Urantia Foundation Trustees have publicly affirmed that they believe The Urantia Book is the Fifth Epochal revelation. Moreover, every copy of The Urantia Book published by Urantia Foundation states on its dust cover that the book is the Fifth Epochal Revelation. This dust cover statement is based on the belief of the Trustees who approved its use and dissemination. The belief of individual Trustees, however, does not entitle Urantia Foundation, as an organization, to state in a court of law that The Urantia Book is the Fifth Epochal Revelation. In legal proceedings, the status of "fact" is reserved for statements for which there is concrete, demonstrable evidence, holding a belief without any reservation cannot make that belief a legal fact.
Moreover, despite the Trustees' belief in the revelation, they do not believe or assert that anyone must believe that The Urantia Book is a revelation in order to benefit from it or be enlightened by its teachings. This issue is for readers to decide; it should not be the focus of authoritative pronouncements on the part of the Trustees. The question was not raised in Urantia Foundation's challenge and, as far as we are able to tell, C.U.B.S. raised it for only one reason: to support its allegation that URANTIA is the common name of or describes "a particular religion, religious revelation and/or movement."
If Urantia Foundation had responded by admitting this allegation, that would have been interpreted as supporting the claim that there was a religion called "URANTIA." But there is not. Urantia Foundation unequivocally denied -- and continues to deny -- that URANTIA is the name of a religion.
If one wishes to adopt the teachings of The Urantia Book as one's personal religion, that is an individual decision. To our knowledge, however, there has never been any general belief among readers and others that The Urantia Book or its teachings constitute, or should be described as, a religion -- even though the Foundation does seek to foster personal religious experience through the teachings of The Urantia Book. The Urantia Book has for each reader whatever he or she finds in it; therefore it cannot be categorized or classified by means of a single term or phrase?
? C.U.B.S.' accusation that "Urantia Foundation denies the true origin of The Urantia Book" is a semantic contrivance. Specifically, C.U.B.S. claims that Urantia Foundation "denied that it [The Urantia Book] was revealed by various divine beings." As with C.U.B.S.' "revelation" accusations, this is not a fact capable of legal proof, and Urantia Foundation therefore stated that it could neither admit or deny the point. Once again, C.U.B.S.' allegation was not whether the Trustees believed the claim; and in this case, even C.U.B.S. did not forward the legal claim as a matter of fact. Instead, C.U.B.S. stated that "On information and belief, The Urantia Book was revealed to Urantia by divine beings."
Here C.U.B.S. attacks Urantia Foundation for not admitting as fact something which C.U.B.S. itself describes as belief.
C.U.B.S. also claims that because Urantia Foundation denied that the Concentric Circles are a generic symbol for a religion, the Foundation is claiming the Concentric Circles as its private property. This is preposterous. The basis for the Foundation's denial is that there is no religion which is identified by the symbol. This denial in no way denies the significance of the Concentric Circles in The Urantia Book. Furthermore, Urantia Foundation claims rights in the Concentric-Circles Symbol as a mark only when that symbol serves as an indication of source or origin, e.g., when Urantia organizations sell The Urantia Book and conduct other activities.
9. Because The Urantia Book is owned by the people, the Trustees of Urantia Foundation should be democratically elected.
The Foundation's authority is established by the powers granted it by the Declaration of Trust Creating Urantia Foundation. The Trustees are responsible to the Attorney General of the State of Illinois for the faithful discharge of their duties. The Contact Commissioners and the first Board of Trustees wanted a trust document which was insulated from social, political, and financial pressure.
Notwithstanding that the Foundation does not (and cannot) exercise authority by the consent of the people, the Trustees should and do listen to constructive advice from readers and are, we think, wisely responsive to them.
The Urantia Book is for all the peoples of Urantia, and in symbolic sense, it belongs to, it's owned by, as it were, all of us--in much the same way that Yellowstone Park belongs to, and is owned by, the people of the United States. And just as the Department of Interior holds in trust, for the people of the United States, the title to the land on which Yellowstone Park is located, and the Park Rangers are the custodial protectors of Yellowstone Park, the Foundation holds in trust, for the peoples of Urantia, the title (that is, the copyright) in The Urantia Book, and the Trustees are the custodial protectors of the book.
10. The conflict between the Foundation and the former Urantia Brotherhood placed the Foundation in a bad light.
The Foundation-Brotherhood schism was the end result of a widening divergence of views over a number of years - views which were accentuated by personality clashes between a former Trustee and several leaders of the former Urantia Brotherhood. Definitely, matters could have been handled more wisely by all involved. Most arguments and personality clashes are unpleasant. The players at the time disagreed about a number of issues, and these people passionately defended their positions because of their intense love for the revelation. Debating who was right or wrong could go on forever. To fully appreciate the events, one needed to have been a participant or close observer at the time.
Trustees and leaders come and go. Trustees have failings and frailties like all imperfect human beings. Although conflict is unpleasant, it is a reality of life. There were definitely problems during the 1980's that resulted in the split. However, the Board of Trustees has changed. Let us learn from, but not regret or get bogged down in, the past. Often problems are not solved; they are just outlived and become irrelevant.
11. The Foundation wanted to stop the spread of the Revelation when it took books out of circulation after the 1989 split.
It is true that after the split, the Foundation changed its distribution policy by ceasing to sell books directly to individuals and reader groups at a 40% discount. Why? Because the more books sold through bookstores, the more money bookstores made, and the more willing they were to order and carry The Urantia Book. The Board of Trustees at that time believed that, in the early 1990s about half of all books sold were not being sold through bookstores but were being sold by discounters. They believed that discounters were competing with bookstores, and that by ceasing to sell directly to individuals and reader groups they would actually increase the total dissemination of the book.
It is understandable why some people were upset?especially given the environment after the split. The new Foundation policy stopped the selling of books to individuals and distributors. The book could be obtained only at bookstores. But it was never true that the Foundation took the book out of circulation, or that the Trustees were trying to derail the revelation. They made a decision that they believed would, in the long run, increase the availability of the book in the bookstores. It was an unpopular decision to some, as readers could no longer buy the book at a discount, and, for a while, some bookstores were not ordering or stocking the book because their distributors did not have it. In a short period of time, however, the Foundation realized that distributors were necessary and reinstated them.
As of May 1999, The Urantia Book is being sold through, and is on the shelves of, some 2,000 bookstores in the United States alone. In 1998, more than 25,000 books were sold worldwide. There are 27 distributors carrying the book throughout the world, and seven are in the United States. It is a stock item at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores.
12. The Foundation uses donated money to sue fellow readers.
The Trustees have never used funds from general contributions, or funds designated for specific projects, to pay for litigation. All funds used for such matters have come from individuals who have specified that their contributions be used to defend the copyright and marks.
Some litigation (the most publicized litigation) has been against readers, and some litigation (the least publicized litigation) has been against non-readers.
Twenty-five years ago, the Trustees wrote the following in their July 1970 letter to readers:
Our most trying experience today is, as we have long since been warned, dealing with many strange isms and queer groups which will seek to attach themselves to The Urantia Book and its far-flung influence. Your most trying experiences will be with such groups who so loudly acclaim their belief in the teachings of the book and who will so persistently seek to attach themselves to the movement. Great wisdom will be required to guard against the distracting and distorting influence of these multifarious groups and from equally distracting and disturbing individuals, some well-intentioned and some sinister, who will strive to become a part of the authentic constituency of the Urantia movement.
Although some of the copyright and trademark litigation has been against readers, this was not so in the case of Urantia Health Massage, Urantia Trading Company, Urantia Cocktail Lounge, Urantia Produce, and a few others. In general, non-reader infringers, unlike reader infringers, have been willing, when asked, to cease their infringement activities. Some reader infringers seem to believe they are on a "mission from God." They seem to think that they can break the laws of the United States because they seem to believe they are obeying the laws of, or "instructions" from, God.
Copyright and mark maintenance is the least pleasant duty of the Trustees, but it is perhaps the best way "to perpetually preserve inviolate the text of The Urantia Book"--which is, in the words of the Declaration of Trust, "the primary duty of the Trustees."
The Contact Commissioners, the first Trustees, and subsequent Trustees chose, and the current Trustees choose, to use the copyright and marks as a means to perpetually preserve inviolate the text. One may say that the Foundation cannot use the copyright to perpetually preserve inviolate the text because the U.S. copyright under current law, will expire in 2050. While that is true, the strategy is to have enough books and translations in circulation by 2050 so that altered texts will be readily apparent to readers. Furthermore, after the copyright expires, the inviolate text will be recognizable by the registered marks?"Urantia" and the Concentric-Circle Symbol.
Readers are encouraged, if they so desire, to devise a thousand and one ways to introduce The Urantia Book and it teachings to their contacts and associates. The Foundation asks only two things: 1) please leave the publishing and translations of the book to the Foundation, and 2) please do not use the registered marks without the express and unambiguous permission from Urantia Foundation. We do not believe this is so much to ask given the benefits of keeping the book safe and keeping the original text inviolate for our children and our children's children.
Copyright 1999 Urantia Foundation