Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler both died in 1945 -- with Frank's death being caused by Hitler. European law (for now) says that copyright lasts 70 years "after death" of an author, and that means that the published writings of each of those individuals are now in the public domain in Europe -- though there's serious controversy about both. Even though we won't see any new public domain works here in the US
for quite some time, over in Europe, at least some works are able to enter the public domain each January 1st.
As we noted a couple months ago, the Anne Frank Foundation (Anne Frank Fonds) has been lying and telling people that Frank's father, Otto Frank, is a co-author
of the diary and therefore the copyright doesn't expire until 70 years after his
death. Otto Frank, obviously, did quite a lot to get his daughter's diaries published and spread around the world. And for that, people should be thankful. But the attempt to keep the work under copyright is shameful and pure copyfraud, and it tarnishes the image of the Anne Frank Fonds, which has done much good in the world.
And while the Foundation insists that it will fight any plans
to release the book, it appears that many are ignoring such threats. French Parliament member Isabelle Attard, who has been vocal in criticizing the copyfraud attempt, has posted a copy of the text
in the original Dutch on her personal website. Meanwhile, the Internet Archive appears to have the full text in English
, though it actually appears to be a later edited version of the diaries, which is not
in the public domain (though the Archive says it's relying on fair use for the posting).
And now we wait to see if the promised legal action follows...
Meanwhile, over in Germany, Hitler's Mein Kampf is available
for the first time in decades. As we've discussed in the past, the copyright story on Mein Kampf is somewhat bizarre. The US government seized it after the end of World War II, and then transferred it to the government of Bavaria, who used it to bar all printing of the book in Germany. There had been some panic
that making the book available would increase neo-Nazi sentiment in Germany, but it also might better educate the public on the insanity that was Adolf Hitler. As we noted last year, there was also a bizarre instance back in the 1930s when future Senator Alan Cranston tried to publish Mein Kampf
in America to show just how batshit crazy Hitler was
(an officially published version in the US had been watered down to hide much of the craziness) -- and Hitler and his publisher sued over the publication
, helping to get the original Mein Kampf censored in the US.
The new version being released in Germany is (smartly) an annotated
version "with thousands of academic notes, [which] will aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive."
Still, German officials claim that they are going to try to "limit public access" to the original text, even though it will be (and, let's face it, already is) widely available on the internet.