'Diary of Anne Frank' Published Online as Copyright Expires

Famous Holocaust story now free for academic research after courts repeal Anne Frank Fonds foundation's attempts to extend copyright to give royalties to charity.

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Anne Frank, who lived in the Netherlands during WWII, in 1941.
Anne Frank, who lived in the Netherlands during WWII, in 1941.Credit: AP
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A French lawmaker and a French scholar published separate online editions of the "Diary of Anne Frank" on Friday, representing a challenge to the foundation that allocates the book's royalties, though the current copyright expired on the same day.

European copyrights generally expire 70 years after an author’s death, thus the copyright was expected to expire at the end of 2015. However, Anne Frank Fonds, the Swiss foundation that Frank’s father, Otto, established to allocate the book’s royalties to charity, announced recently that it planned to list Otto Frank as a co-author, thus adding 35 years to the copyright. Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the eight Jews who sought refuge in the attic, died in 1980.

Early last week, however, an Amsterdam court ruled that the original text of the diary may be copied for academic research.

Isabelle Attard, a French Parliament member whose grandparents died in the Holocaust, published the entire Dutch text of the diary on Friday, the French news agency AFP reported. Separately, Olivier Ertzscheid, a lecturer at the University of Nantes, published the text on his website the same day.

“The intimate diary, written in a secret apartment in Amsterdam by a Jewish teenager, born German but stripped of her nationality, has finally entered the public domain,” Attard said in a statement on her website. “Seventy years after the author’s death, the whole world can use, translate and interpret these works, and use them to create new ones.”

Frank’s diary, which chronicles two years of hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic, may be the most famous Holocaust-era document and has inspired several play and film adaptations. Anne died in 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen extermination camp.

Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic book “Mein Kampf” also entered the public domain on Jan. 1.

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