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Anne Frank Fund threatens legal action

December 31, 2015

A French MP and an academic have announced plans to publish the diary of Anne Frank on January 1, the day the work falls within the public domain. The organization with publication rights is threatening legal action.

Anne Frank
Image: picture-alliance

University of Nantes lecturer Oliver Ertzcheid said the intended January 1 publication date of the diary in Frank's native Dutch would be on the day the work falls into the public domain.

European copyright law stipulates that a book falls within the public domain on January 1, 70 years after the author's death.

Anne Frank's diary, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” documents a period of her life during World War II when she and her family hid from the Nazis during the occupation of the Netherlands.

The diary was published in 1947, becoming an international bestseller, with over 30 million copies sold, and making her an enduring symbol of Holocaust victims.

The Frank family went into hiding in 1942 from the Nazis in a secret annex at the back of an Amsterdam canal house, owned by her father Otto Frank's company, until they were betrayed in 1944 and sent to Germany.

Anne and her sister Margot were moved from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to Bergen-Belsen in November 1944, as the Russian army closed in from the east.

Anne died at the age of 15 in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945.

Describing himself as an “activist” when it comes to issues of public domain rights, Erzscheid said the pushback against the publication is “appalling.”

Adolf Hitler's “Mein Kampf” will also enter the public domain on January 1.

Isabelle Attard, a French member of parliament, also plans to publish the diary in its original language on Friday.

Holding publication rights to Frank's book, the Anne Frank Fund told news agency AFP it had sent a letter threatening legal action should the work be published.

The Fund argues the book is a posthumous publication, arguing that copyright extends 50 years past the original publication date. The Dutch State Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) previously published unpublished material in 1986 which the organization says is under copyright until at least 2037.

Attard called the move a “question of money.”

Scientific research

On Tuesday a court in Amsterdam ruled extracts from Frank's diaries can be copied and used for scientific purposes, saying that research falls under the freedom of scientific pursuit.

Frank's diaries and other writings are property of the Dutch state, which permanently loaned them to the Anne Frank House in 2009.

The scientific research begun in 2011 looks at Anne's development as a writer and the events outlined in her works.

jlw/jil (AFP, dpa)