Anne Frank’s Diary and Copyright

Back in January, Anne Frank’s diary was put online, available for free. The copyright owners were considering legal action, and a mess ensued. Differences between national copyright laws in the EU further muddied the waters. Depending on which law is applied, the protection period of the work differs. There has been great disagreement over the date in which the work enters the public domain.

The problems centre around who the author of the diary is, and when it was actually published. Whilst clearly written by Anne Frank, her father compiled and edited the texts. Did these changes result in a new work?

Others have argued that privatisation of knowledge is a consideration here and that the public should have access to this important piece of literature.

Of significance to this discussion was that Hitlers ‘Mein Kampf’ also entered the public domain in January. Is it now more than ever important to balance these views with showing the human suffering presented in Anne Frank’s Diary? Reprinting of Mein Kampf had previously been banned by the copyright holders, however a new edition is now set to be published. Thankfully, these new editions are annotated versions, which “aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive.”

I read Anne Frank’s diary as a young girl, and 16 years later my little sister has read it, also at the age of 11. I am not sure of the copyright law in the EU and what the best answer is, but I do know that it is important for everyone to read this incredibly powerful book. Having also been to Anne Frank’s house in the Netherlands, I have gained an understanding of the strength of her spirit, and the horrors that humans are capable of. It is something beyond description, but something that people need to feel. I am now inspired to go and read the diary once more.

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