Anne Frank's Diary Now Has a Co-Author
The new claim would extend the copyright on the diary for decades
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2015 11:29 AM CST
A Swiss foundation now claims Anne Frank's father Otto coauthored his daughter's famous diary in a move designed to extend its copyright on the work.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The copyright on The Diary of Anne Frank—set to expire Jan. 1 in most of Europe—has been extended by at least 35 years after the Swiss foundation that holds the copyright claimed Anne's diary actually had a co-author: her father, the New York Times reports. Otto Frank has long been acknowledged as an editor and compiler. As the Globe and Mail explains, there are A, B, and C versions of the diary: A was the original begun by Anne; B was the rewrite she started in the spring of 1944 after hearing a radio plea from the exiled education minister that the Dutch collect and safeguard their letters and diaries; C is the version Frank created from A and B, and what the debut 1947 edition was based on. In most of Europe, copyrights expire 70 years after the author's death. Anne died in 1945, but Otto lived until 1980, meaning the copyright now reaches into 2050, preserving the requirement that anyone in Europe wanting to publish the book ask the Anne Frank Fonds for permission and pay it royalties.

The change isn't sitting well with many, the Times reports. One lawyer says it implies the foundation has been lying all these years about Anne writing the diary on her own and that it "should think very carefully about the consequences." Author Cory Doctorow writing for BoingBoing says bestowing copyright protection on editors chips away at authors' rights. The foundation—which donates proceeds from sales of The Diary of Anne Frank to charities—says the copyright is needed to, as the Globe and Mail puts, it "protect her work from unchecked commercial exploitation." That's not a good enough reason, Doctorow argues. "Virtually every historical person, from St. Francis to Shakespeare, is in the public domain. The martyrs of every purge and pogrom, the heroes of every war—all in the public domain." (Anne likely died earlier than thought.)
 

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