November 19, 2015

Father Of Anne Frank Listed As Co-Author Of Diary To Extend Copyright


In an effort to extend the copyright it holds on “The Diary of Anne Frank,” the Anne Frank Fonds controversially listed Anne's father, Otto Frank, as the work's co-author. The move enables the Swiss Foundation that owns the copyright to extend their ownership of the work to 2050. The original copyright was supposed to expire on Jan. 1, 2016 in most of Europe.

Originally, Otto Frank was credited as the editor of his daughter's diary which was written when the family lived in secret in the attic of their friend in order to hide from Nazis. Although he had maintained during his lifetime that the words in the published book were mostly of his daughter's, the foundation's decision to list him as the co-author reportedly contradicts that long-held position.


According to many critics of the decision, the listing of Otto as the diary's co-author undermines copyright laws.

“There is a good reason that copyrights are limited, so that people can freely use [written materials]. It doesn’t mean that they need to be protected for all eternity,” said copyright lawyer and professor at the University of Amsterdam, Stef van Gompel. 

However, Anne Frank Fonds maintains that financial gain is not behind their motive to extend the copyright of the diary since they donate most of the proceeds from the sales of the book to charity. Since its first publication, “The Diary Of Anne Frank” has been translated to 70 different languages and has sold over 30 millions copies worldwide.

But philanthropy is not a good enough reason to take advantage of copyright laws, say many observers. In particular, some point out that this may be the foundation's way to circumvent the plans of the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam to release an online version of the diary next year.

The two entities have long been feuding over trademark and copyrights relating to the diary. Their plans, as well as those of many other publishers' to print new editions of the diary may now be put on hold due to the extension of the copyright.

To further complicate the matter, the Anne Frank Fond may extend the copyright even longer. This is due to a 1991 “definitive edition” of the diary which extended the original book by 25 per cent and was published with a second editor, Mirjam Pressler. This updated version of the diary contained notes from Anne's other notebooks as well as sections which Otto previously did not want to publish. It was also adapted into a Broadway play in 1997 starring Natalie Portman.

After Pressler secured the copyright to her edition of the diary, the rights were transferred to the foundation. This could conceivably mean that the Anne Frank Fond may be able to extend the copyright of the work for another 70 years after Pressler dies.

As Anne Frank herself wrote in her diary, “Why do grown-ups quarrel so easily?”

By Jay Dizon


With many thanks to TechTimes

More from The Australian:

Let Anne Frank’s Diary Rise Above Copyright Spats 

The power of Anne Frank’s diary lies in its simplicity: her innermost observations, penned while she and her Jewish family hid from the Nazis in the secret annex of a warehouse in Amsterdam, and then left to posterity when she was dragged off to die at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.


On its publication in 1946, the Dutch historian Jan Romein wrote: “This apparently inconsequential diary by a child ­embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the ­evidence of Nuremberg put ­together.”

That simple legacy is now ­embroiled in a complex dispute about money, copyright, Holocaust denial and the nature of ­culture itself; an ugly spat that bears out one of Anne Frank’s most telling observations: “Why do grown-ups quarrel so easily?”

The copyright of the diaries was due to expire in most of ­Europe next year, 70 years after Anne’s death, which would have enabled anyone to publish it. But now the Swiss foundation that holds the rights has informed publishers the diaries will remain their property because the work done by Anne’s father Otto in ­editing and preparing the diaries for publication had “earned his own copyright”.

Otto died in 1980. By asserting he was “co-author” of the diaries, the Anne Frank Foundation is ­effectively trying to block others from publishing (and profiting from) the book until 2050. In ­defiance of that warning, French publishers are threatening to issue online editions.

The foundation’s move is a gift to Holocaust deniers, who have long tried to claim the diary was a sophisticated work of anti-Nazi propaganda written by her father. Forensic examination, handwriting analysis and textual comparisons have proved beyond doubt the diaries are genuine.

Yet the assertion that Otto ­deserves to be considered as joint-creator for editing his daughter’s writings can only reinforce ­suspicion the diaries are not the heartfelt outpourings they appear to be, but the product of adult ­manipulation.

The foundation has always insisted the diaries are hers and hers alone; that is what gives them such resonance. By now claiming co-authorship for her father, the impact of Anne’s words has been dangerously diluted.

Copyright law is an essential guarantee for writers and artists that they and their heirs will be able to profit from their works for a limited period.

But the Anne Frank diaries, and similar ­artefacts of wartime horror, are so different from other works of art that normal rules of copyright should not apply.


There is an overwhelming moral case for making them available to the widest possible readership, at the earliest date, at the lowest cost.

The foundation insists its ­motives in extending copyright are cultural, not mercenary, and prompted by the duty to protect her legacy and prevent inappropriate exploitation of her work. Certainly, when works enter the public domain they may be used for tasteless and unlikely ends, but who would see the spoofing of Shakespeare or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as anything but a tribute to invulnerable works of art. If Anne’s words start to ­appear on mugs and T-shirts, so much the better.

The ­battle over one of the finest works of 20th-century literature coincides with a copyright debate over the very worst: on January 1, Mein Kampf will enter the public ­domain, after the copyright held by the Bavarian ­government ­expires. The book is on sale in Australia, but Bavaria has hitherto maintained an effective ban by ­refusing all requests to republish a German edition of Hitler’s paranoid racial diatribe.

The Munich Institute of Contemporary History is planning to issue an annotated version next year, the first publication in Germany since 1945, but there is a possibility it may be banned under laws prohibiting the ­dissemination of Nazi ideology.

Mein Kampf should be ­allowed to fall out of copyright and enter the public domain for the simple reason that it ought to be read, by everyone, once. Not because it is great literature, like Anne’s diaries, but because it is the opposite: the worst book ever written, wicked soporific claptrap.

The Times serialised Mein Kampf in 1933, on the ground that the public needed to know what Hitler was about and how “he came to hate the Jews”. 

If Anne Frank is essential to understanding the good that survived under Nazism, then Hitler is equally ­important in order to comprehend the evil that drove her into hiding and death. Neither should be limited by copyright.

But the most compelling advocate for putting Anne Frank’s diaries into the public domain is the author herself.

 On March 29, 1944, in her hiding place behind a bookcase in the annex, Anne Frank listened to a broadcast from London by the exiled Dutch arts minister, calling for the preservation of “ordinary documents” that recorded the Nazi occupation. She set about redrafting, editing and clarifying her diary, with future readers in mind.

Anne wanted her diary to be read by as many people as possible. 

The grown-ups quarrelling over the rights to her words should honour that simple wish.

By Ben MacIntyre

 More on literature:
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Sir John Monash: Grantlee Kieza’s Biography
Julia Child’s French Cooking Book Was A Trail Blazer 
Fairy Tales Are Grim! 

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