Pure Copyfraud: Anne Frank Foundation Trying To Pretend Her Father Wrote Her Diary... To Extend Its Copyright
from the copyright-term-stupidity dept
The move has a practical effect: It extends the copyright from Jan. 1, when it is set to expire in most of Europe, to the end of 2050. Copyrights in Europe generally end 70 years after an author’s death. Anne Frank died 70 years ago at Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp, and Otto Frank died in 1980. Extending the copyright would block others from being able to publish the book without paying royalties or receiving permission.Of course, there are some problems with this, including the fact that in the original publication of the diary, Otto Frank wrote a prologue insisting that the entire diary was written by his late daughter. The Anne Frank Fonds organization in Basel Switzerland currently holds the copyright, but the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam -- which is a totally separate organization -- had been relying on the upcoming expectation that the book would move back into the public domain to apparently create a public version of the diary.
The museum has been working for five years with historians and researchers on an elaborate web version of the diary intended for publication once the copyright expires. The research is still progressing with a historical and textual analysis of her writing, including deletions, corrections and stains.Meaning, the two organizations connected to Anne Frank's legacy may end up in court sparring over the copyright on the diary.
Which, you know, should at least raise the following question: who in their right mind thinks that copyright was the "incentive" necessary for Anne Frank to write her diary? I'm sure that the revenue from the sales on the book have been quite good to the foundation, and I'll even assume the foundation has done good things with that money in Frank's memory. But that doesn't justify gaming the system to keep the work out of the public domain, where it is likely to do even more good.
Even more to the point: Otto Frank had over 20 years to claim that he was a co-author. And he did not. It's already somewhat questionable that we extend copyright after death, but to enable an organization to claim that someone else has had a copyright in a work decades after his death when he did nothing during his own life to claim it seems exceptionally questionable.
One of Anne’s own astute diary entries seemed to anticipate the disputes: “Why do grown-ups quarrel so easily?”In this case, the answer is: "because of screwed up copyright law and, of course, lots and lots and lots of money."
Of course, the folks who run the foundation are pulling out bogus arguments about protecting Anne. Because they're liars.
The foundation’s officials said that their aim is to “make sure that Anne Frank stays Anne,” Mr. Kugelmann said, by maintaining control and avoiding inappropriate exploitation of the work. “When she died, she was a young girl who was not even 16. We are protecting her. That is our task.”Except that's not the purpose of copyright law. And, at some point the book is going into the public domain no matter what. So what is he really "protecting"? The only thing that this protects is the money. That's it.
Critics, he said, are wrongly looking at the intended change as a financial matter. “It is not about the money,” he said.
Oh, and in the meantime, none of this really matters, because as the link above notes, in 1991, an editor named Mirjam Pressler "revised, edited and added 25 percent more material from Anne Frank's diary for what was called a 'definitive edition'." And, amazingly, Pressler was given the copyright on that edition, which she then transferred to the foundation. As the report notes, Pressler is still alive, and thus the Foundation will retain the copyright on that larger edition at least until 70 years after Pressler passes away.
And, of course, since that misleadingly titled "definitive edition" in 1991, additional content has been released as well. In 2001 some extra pages were published. Apparently, those were subject to something of a copyright fight as well -- with the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation claiming to hold the rights to them and the same Anne Frank Fonds organization claiming that it was "absolutely illegal" for Otto Frank's friend to share the pages with an author. Eventually that fight was settled when a $300,000 donation was made.
And, of course, even more recently, the same foundation apparently released a fully "unedited" version that put back in a bunch of the stuff that had been cut out of all previous versions (which some deemed to be scandalous). Of course, as an unedited version, there shouldn't be any claim to a separate author -- so in theory that complete version should be entering the public domain in many countries in just a couple months. Of course, here in the US, where we keep extending copyright terms, we've got to wait longer anyway. Because, again, without that, why would there be any incentive at all for her to have written her diary...