Anne Frank’s Diary – in or out of copyright?

Anne Frank, who wrote the famous diary detailing her family’s time in hiding during the Second World War, died 70 years ago.

In most of Europe copyright expires 70 years after an author’s death.

On 1 January 2016 two French citizens, an academic and a politician, independently published the text of the diary online, believing that copyright had expired. However, Anne Frank Fonds, a foundation established by Anne’s father Otto Frank, has objected that Otto Frank and a children’s author and translator, Mirjam Pressler, were responsible for publication of various edited versions of the diary, published later on. Otto Frank died in 1980 whilst Mirjam Pressler is still alive. Thus, the foundation argues that the diary is still protected by European Copyright laws for many years to come.

Further argument will no doubt come, but the lesson here is that copyright and even the timing of copyright expiry is rarely simple. The circumstances should be considered carefully.

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