Anne Frank's Diary at the Center of Copyright Feud

Copyright on the diary ends on Friday, according to European law, but fund insists Frank's father Otto, who died in 1980, also has copyright.

AFP

The Switzerland-based Anne Frank Fund has threatened legal action against two French public figures who have announced plans to publish the diary of Anne Frank online on Friday, the Guardian website reported.

According to European copyright law, a book enters the public domain 70 years after the author’s death, on the first day of January.

Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, at the age of 15. Her diary, written between June 1942 and August 1944, documented her life in hiding, along with her family, in an Amsterdam attic.

It was found in their hiding place after the family was betrayed to the Gestapo and sent to their deaths. Only Otto Frank, Anne's father, remained alive at the end of World War II.

Both French parliamentarian Isabelle Attard and University of Nantes lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid have said that they intend publishing the diary in its original Dutch on Friday, when the book enters the public domain.

But the Anne Frank Fund, which was established by Otto Frank in 1963, announced in October that Otto, who died in 1980, had “earned his own copyright” due to the work he had done on the published version of the diary.

It told the AFP news agency that it had sent a letter threatening legal action if the diary was published on 1 January 2016, the date the copyright should end according to European law.

“After the war, Otto Frank merged, or compiled, the two versions of the diary that Anne Frank left, that were both incomplete and that partly overlapped, into one reader-friendly version," according to Yves Kugelmann, a member of the board of the foundation’s trustees, speaking earlier this year.

"He typed over Anne Frank’s manuscripts and with scissors and glue subsequently literally ‘cut and pasted’ them into the version that was published in English from the early Fifties."

The fund's stance was sharply criticized by both Ertzscheid and Attard, with the latter describing it as a “question of money.”

“Saying now that the book wasn’t written by Anne alone weakens the weight it has had for decades, as a testimony to the horrors of this war,” said a spokesman for Attard.

Anne Frank's diary has sold more than 30 million copies since it was first published in 1947.