Dey Family Claims BBT Copyrights

BY: VASTAVIKA DAS

On June 8, 2015, the ownership of the 60 titles of Srila Prabhupada's books published through 1977 were claimed by the Dey family - Prabhupada's sons and relatives. Also claiming the copyrights (of 65 titles) is the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. Hmmm. In 1998, a Los Angeles Superior Court probate judge ruled that the copyrights belonged to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust - the original Trust established by His Divine Grace. Both the Dey family and the BBTI are now claiming those rights, but there is no court order removing the copyrights from the BBT.

On June 8, 2015, the ownership of the 60 titles of Srila Prabhupada's books published through 1977 were claimed by the Dey family - Prabhupada's sons and relatives. Also claiming the copyrights (of 65 titles) is the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. Hmmm. In 1998, a Los Angeles Superior Court probate judge ruled that the copyrights belonged to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust - the original Trust established by His Divine Grace. Both the Dey family and the BBTI are now claiming those rights, but there is no court order removing the copyrights from the BBT.

Note that the BBT and the BBTI are two different entities. The BBT is a trust. The BBTI is a California corporation with Greg Stein aka Gopal Bhatta das as the CEO. So what happened to make the Dey family a claimant of Srila Prabhupada's copyrights? And what legal motion was ruled on by a judge that would have given the BBTI - a corporation - the copyrights? There is no record of such a ruling.

Scratch the surface of the Dey/BBTI's claim for the copyrights and the waters muddy even more. In a few countries, copyrights revert to the relatives upon the death of an author - but not in the U.S. There is no basis for the copyrights ever leaving the BBT. After the Krishna Books settlement in '98, the trustees of the BBT became H.H. Jayadwaita Swami, Brahma Muhurta das, Nareshwara das, and Svavasa dasa. The BBTI officers are Gopal Bhatta, Svavasa das, et al. How did the Dey's get involved in claiming the rights to 58 and/or 60 of those 65 titles? Why? What's the scheme? There's a back story, but can you figure out how it plays into the 2015 twist? Here's the beginning taken from:www.harekrishnamalaysia.com:

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. was not and is not the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust created by Srila Prabhupada in 1972 was a valid, legal trust. Srila Prabhupada vested it with the copyrights to all his books, manuscripts and other documents written by and translated by himself, including copyrights and publication rights. 
Prabhupada appointed Hansadutta as a lifetime trustee of his trust. There were only ever 3 trustees at a time, although provision was made in the trust for 5. Srila Prabhupada was himself one of them, and upon his departure, there remained two. 
There were many people claiming to be BBT Trustees who were never trustees of Prabhupada's BBT. 
ISKCON GBC had no legal mandate or power to direct or interfere with the operation of Prabhupada's BBT.
ISKCON and the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. had taken over the publishing operations of Prabhupada's BBT and diverted the proceeds from it Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. never owned the copyrights to Prabhupada's books.

I'd like to clarify here that in this post, 'BBT' stands for Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, whereas 'BBT International, Inc' stands for Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. They are not one and the same. In fact, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. is not even a trust — it's a corporation.

Creation of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in California, May 1972

While there are different kinds of trusts, in principle, a trust is established for the benefit of someone(s). The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust created by Srila Prabhupada in California, May, 1972 was Srila Prabhpada's legal construct to carry out his intentions while still living and afterwards, in perpetuity, and his designated trustees were entrusted to execute the functions of the trust for the benefit of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada explicitly stated that the BBT was independent of ISKCON, although he needn't have stated it, because a beneficiary of a trust DOES NOT OWN the trust and has no say in its execution. The trust belongs to the creator of the trust, Srila Prabhupada.

ISKCON attempts to bypass the trustee and take over the BBT

Practically from the time of Srila Prabhupada's departure in 1977 until 1980 book printing had come to a halt. There were stocks of books that were being distributed, but printing had stopped, and gradually stocks declined. Sometime between 1980 and 1981 a dispute arose between Ramesvara and Hansadutta over funds that Ramesvara claimed were owed to the BBT by temples under Hansadutta's management. In 1982 Hansadutta published 20,000 sets of Srimad-Bhagavatam in Singapore for distribution through contract sales. He also printed at the same time 10,000 of the black hard-copy Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 10,000 copies of the pocket size black vinyl Bhagavad-gita As It is, and 10,000 copies each of the pocket size newsprint Bhagavad-gita As It Is and hardcover Golden Avatar (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya). Ramesvara, who was never a BBT Trustee, moved to boycott the books in North American ISKCON centres and in other centres around the world, including Mayapur. Sometime in 1983 ISKCON GBC passed a resolution to remove Hansadutta as trustee of the BBT (and please note that while Hansadutta was sanctioned for lapses in strictly following the regulative principles of devotional life, he was not involved in criminal activity). They also passed a resolution to transfer the copyrights to Srila Prabhuapda's books from the BBT to a corporation. THEIR RESOLUTIONS DID NOT EFFECT LEGAL REMOVAL OF THE TRUSTEE AND COPYRIGHTS FROM PRABHUPADA'S BBT because they never had legal standing to do so.

Shortly afterwards Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. was incorporated and assumed operation of publishing Srila Prabhupada's books. Legally, however, it had no connection whatsoever to Srila Prabhupada's BBT. They simply tagged the same name onto their corporation. Prior to this, Ramesvara informed the GBC that ISKCON of California, Inc had been carrying out BBT functions under the fictitious business name 'BBT'. The rank and file devotees had no knowledge of any of this and for that matter, probably most of the GBC had no clue either. No doubt they thought that the BBT was going on and that ISKCON GBC had authority over it. ISKCON never had legal authority to direct, appoint or remove the trustees or to take over operations of the trust or to seize its assets and properties. They created BBT International, Inc. as a smoke screen, an illusory device for taking over Srila Prabhupada's trust and bypassing the trustee. BBT International, Inc is a California corporation — not a trust, and has directors — not trustees. Most importantly, it owned neither the copyrights to Prabhupada's books nor the publishing rights.

The plot thickens, but the fact is that the BBTI or the Dey family are only claimants. They have no legal control over the copyrights. A court challenge would show that the copyrights never left the BBT – if they were really registered in the Trust in the first place. The only impediment to someone printing Srila Prabhupada's original books is the legal cost of defending that right. BBTI would most certainly challenge any publisher with as much cash as required.

For the BBTI, the same people who brought you Jayadvaita's Vanity Karma book, perpetuating the idea that they own the copyrights is an existential issue. Jitarati das recently printed 5,000 sets of the Srimad Bhagavatam - Prabhupada's words only, not Gopiparanadhana's/Hridayananda's completion of the 10th, 11th and 12th cantos, replaced instead by Krsna Book 1 & 2, printed nearly identically to the originals. It is a purely Prabhupada Bhagavatam set. The BBT in India (a real Trust) sued Jitarati, and the sets were frozen at the printers for a year and a half. However, an enlightened judge ordered that the parties settle. The gorgeous sets are now being sold in North America with the profits benefiting Bhaktivedanta Archives.

The question remains: how did the Deys get involved in claiming the copyrights to Srila Prabhupada's original books? If you ask any BBT or BBTI associates, they will brush off this question with a "it's too complicated" excuse or give some superficial answer that they hope will deter more sleuthing. The agenda seems to be not to rock the boat. They are happy to push the 2nd edition of the Bhagavad Gita as the flagship book of the Hare Krishna Movement despite thousands of Prabhupada followers remaining dissatisfied with the wholesale editing that puts words in Prabhupada's mouth that he never said. Not just Bhagavad Gita, but Bhagavatams, Caitanya-caritamrtas, etc. They are even putting additional changes to a vote through an online survey.

Notables like Ramesvara das, Garuda das, Govinda dasi, Rupanuga das, and so many hundreds of others are crying foul, but the BBTI directors have turned a deaf ear to the naysayers. They just cut the communication with such intimate servants of Srila Prabhuapda. Which brings us back to the Dey family. How did they get involved? Who brought them into the mix? What did they get out of it? Was there money exchanged? Promises made? By whom? When? Why?

You are not supposed to know. You don't understand. You are not an elite. Sorry.