Pure Copyfraud: Anne Frank Foundation Trying To Pretend Her Father Wrote Her Diary... To Extend Its Copyright

from the copyright-term-stupidity dept

Quick: who is the author of the famous Diary of Anne Frank? If you said "Anne Frank" you'd be correct -- but thanks to copyright law, the Foundation that holds the copyright on the book is now trying to add her father's name as a co-author, all because of copyright law.
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.”

Critics, he said, are wrongly looking at the intended change as a financial matter. “It is not about the money,” he said.
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.

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...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:43am

    Without copyright there would have been no incentive for Anne Frank to write her diary. As a creator, Anne knew perfectly well that in order for her to get that fat payday she would need to the protections of copyright. Without those protections, she never would have written that diary and had a long successful life supported by the royalties from her work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      And that copyright should be extended into perpetuity so that she will continue to be inspired in her writings that we all look forward to reading. The fact that she is no longer with us has nothing to so with it - right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 9:12am

      Re:

      And don't forget that she did it for her family and particularly her children!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:47am

    Of course Anne expected her diary's copyright to last forever. Myself, I look forward to the diary's of Han Solo and Lia's children out this December.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:56am

    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'd rephrase that question: who is going to get money at the expense of a girl that did what other girls do and died horribly as a victim while denying the public of this cultural wealth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:59am

    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.”

    ...and now she's 70 years dead. Hate to break it to you, Mr. Kugelmann, but if there's anyone out there with the desire and the means to harm her, she needs protection that a lawyer or an administrator can't provide. And if there isn't, then you're full of crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sam1am (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      Hey take it easy on Mr. Kuglemann, he is just a small child. At least he was at one point in time, and we must protect that child he once was.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      I can't help worrying that there's an "Anne Frank And The Zombie Nazis" manuscript awaiting publication. It's the only possible way to explain all this protectionism. Why, isn't there "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," a bastardization of Jane Austen's classic work? Is nothing sacred these days? They've committed it to film. I tell you, this cannot stand!

      So you see, children, infinite copyright has a good purpose after all. Let us humbly submit to our maximalist overlords and allow them to decide what we can or cannot read (or watch), however dearly a departed individual's memory is considered to be.

      /Sarc

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nate (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 7:08am

    but it's already expired

    And here's another wrinkle.

    The copyright has already expired in countries with death plus fifty copyright terms. I for one would love to see someone in Canada challenge this rights grab.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:08am

      Re: but it's already expired

      Uh, Canada does no longer universally have death+50 for copyright, see this note.

      Pay attention when they screw you over. The next screwover with a general life+70 provision is on the way in the form of a "trade agreement", with the ground already prepared by the current extension.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 1:13pm

        Re: Re: but it's already expired

        That 70 years, not 70 years plus life and that's just for music (not that 70 years only ,for everything, wouldn't be an improvement, not the best, no copyright monopoly is the best, but an improvement), as Wikipedia says, 50 years plus life, is still the duration for most things, but with CETA and the TTP who knows how long that will last.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 7:17am

    Creative or Not Creative Censorship...That Is The Question

    Let's see if I have this right. The diary was first published in 1944, and was apparently edited. In that case the editor received no copyright, only the author. Then in 1991 someone newly edited the diary and then received a new copyright, but not the author. Now, more recently an unedited version was released that received NO copyright, not even the author.

    Seems to me that the first two edits were selective censorship rather than actual, you know, editing. Apparently the first edit was not considered creative censorship while the second edit WAS considered creative censorship and awarded a new copyright, while ignoring that the complete, uncensored work already had a copyright on everything that was released in that newly creatively censored release. Or does the EU think that the unedited version gets no copyright because it was not released in its totality?

    Somebody is quantumly confused, and it might be me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Julio Steinberg-al Bagdadhi, 16 Nov 2015 @ 7:21am

    Disgusting. Disgraceful. Books of such historical importance and social significance should damned well be in public domain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 7:29am

    The foundation’s officials said that their aim is [...] maintaining control

    So, basically, he's admitting they are looking for any means to maintain control. And artificially extending the copyright does just that. It does not, however, contribute in any way to make sure that "Anne stays Anne". It merely locks up the book behind a (pay)wall.

    When the book is elevated to the public domain on the other hand, it would finally allow the entire world to discover the story from the "Achterhuis". Free and without restrictions (or pricetag).

    I'm pretty sure I know what Anne would have wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:06am

      Re:

      now wait just a darn tootin' minute; if they are claiming papa was the author, then they are NOT making sure 'anne stays anne', they are making sure otto stays anne...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 7:36am

    Yup, Anne already wrote about all of the copyright lawyers running in and out of the "Achterhuis" in Amsterdam in her diary...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 8:08am

    Why do you hate dead people?

    How do you expect dead people to create new works if you are always trying to take their copyright protections away?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 8:11am

    Spelling error in article

    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.
    Mike, you misspelled "bat shit insane" twice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 8:42am

    Big pharma patent evergreening reaches copyright.

    Shakespeare was right about lawyers, after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 8:47am

    Copyright should end at the author's death.

    This would increase the incentives for copyright maximalists to save people like Ann Frank and Alfred Joyce Kilmer from being killed in wars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:13am

      Re: Copyright should end at the author's death.

      So does death+x. I'm rather of the opinion that copyright should end at publication+x. That way both author and publisher know what they are bargaining for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re: Copyright should end at the author's death.

        Yeah, that's the model we used to have originally, and it made a lot of sense. It would make a lot of sense to bring it back.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright should end at the author's death.

          Who really needs a copyright longer than 28 years? Is anyone really going to want to read Stuart Woods' Orchid Beach after 28 years?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:36am

        Re: Re: Copyright should end at the author's death.

        Yeah, death + x makes no sense. Why make it shorter for someone who dies sooner, if the supposed goal is to provide for the author's grandchildren?

        A flat 50 years would be my preference. That way the stuff made when you were in high school would enter the public domain around your retirement age. And any author still making stuff before his own retirement age would still be getting royalties during his lifetime (assuming his works are in the tiny percentage of works that anyone even cares about 50 years later.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Monkey (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 10:05am

    Copywrong

    Because, again, without that, why would there be any incentive at all for her to have written her diary...

    Just so you know, That sentence made my stomach turn. :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:23am

    Just change to the next gold mine

    The Anne Franck foundation could make a windfall if they just realized that Anne Franck started each entry in her diary with "Hello Kitty" or equivalent.

    Trademark prior art on this sucker, and Ms Franck did not die in vain but can continue feeding the vultures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 11:55am

    The copyright extension is ridiculous, but I'm eagerly awaiting the Anne Frank Fonds organization's first lawsuit, against whom I'm going to assume will be the producer of the movie Anne Frankenstein: Undead Nazi Slayer. Maybe she can hook up with Daywalker Lincoln in the sequel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 12:57pm

    Let is stop

    Sweet baby Jesus, make it stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 5:25pm

    Enough is enough... it's History; Our common heritage -- No One should control it

    I suggest that the fine old institution of "Copyright" badly needs (in addition to much shorter monopoly grants) a specific exemption for "historical" documents, such as, for example, The Diary of Anne Frank or Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech (and the historical film of him delivering that speech, too), news coverage, and similar works. (Imagine the consequences if, for example, the Gettysburg Address had been subjected to such nonsensically anti-social controls.)

    It's ridiculous that we, as a society, are willing to concede that some private individual or corporation can essentially "own the rights to" and exercise control over public experience and to the very stuff of the historical record.

    This needs to stop. Really! It Needs To Stop! It's Insane... Perhaps, between this case and the MLK documents, we can begin to consider applying a little common sense over the farcical legal framework that's grown up to wall us off from direct, simple access to our own common heritage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Klaus, 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:51am

    Mr. Kugelmann

    “When she died, she was a young girl who was not even 16. We are protecting her. That is our task.”

    So says Mr. Kugelmann, bound for the fourth circle of Hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:18am

      What's in a name?

      The name Kugelmann, is germanic, 'kugel' means a round spherical object. 'Mann' means 'man'.

      Who didn't see it coming that mr Bulletman is protecting the heritage of a war victim.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:43am

    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.”

    so anyone expecting to print the book without paying Mr Kugelmann is a ped o phile

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:03am

    OK, let's extend that logic.

    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.”

    Ok. Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was actually put to paper by Rudolf Heß who died in 1987. So lets take some right-wing successor organization like the NPD and claim that Heß should be considered co-author of "Mein Kampf" and they'll secure ongoing copyright in his interest because their aim is to make sure that Hitler stays Hitler, by maintaining control and avoiding inappropriate exploitation of the work.

    Who would stand for that kind of gigantic revisionist clusterfuck?

    By the way, this kind of greedy legalistic corporate entitlement was what the early 20th century antisemitism in Europe particularly rode on since it was what people associated with "typically Jewish" professions. While there was lots of other propaganda bordering on wild fantasies (like an organized "Jewish World Conspiracy", a "protocol of the sages of Zion", lots of stuff about lewdness towards "good girls", racial fables and so on), the general resentment of the ordinary citizen that made it even possible to swallow all that poison was based about misgivings on the legal and financial professions, perceived as being mainly under Jewish control, spiraling out of control and good sense.

    And while we seem to be over pinning the blame on a particular religion (admittedly, Muslim extremists do seem to pin it to Western nations with some success in convincing a percentage of their brethren sufficient for actually causing some damage), the same crap with legal and financial professions spiraling out of control and good sense is happening again, and the Anne Frank foundation seems to enjoy being at the forefront.

    And frankly: if you take a look at how stuff like TTIP is force-fed to nominally democratic nations out of corporate interests, "World Conspiracy" seems like a pretty apt description.

    So it would be quite a good idea to have both "Mein Kampf" and Anne Frank's diary publicly available so that people have a better chance to recognize the road we are on again and see where it is leading and how.

    Before hundreds of millions of scapegoats have to die again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:26am

    Editing a work without adding anything to it does not generally imbue one with authorship. Otherwise every editor who cuts down a too-long work would be a co-author.

    My other thought is that we shouldn't be reading someone else's diary in the first place. This is why I never kept a diary as a kid. There was a 100% chance that a parent or sibling would at some point read it, and apparently a nonzero chance it would be published and become required reading for children everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 6:32pm

    How disgusting. These folks seem to have more in common with the antagonists of the diary than what they claim to support.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 4:53pm

    I never understood why dead people need copyright.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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