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Books EU

Diary of Anne Frank Subject To Copyright Dispute (theguardian.com) 150

Bruce66423 writes: The Diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager killed by the Nazis whose writing survived in the Amsterdam building where she had hidden, is causing problems. It has been 70 years since she died, making it public domain by European law. A French academic has made it available online with profits going to charity. However, the Anne Frank Fonds, the foundation established by Anne’s father Otto Frank, claims that: “Otto Frank and children’s author and translator, Mirjam Pressler, were inter alia responsible for the various edited versions of fragments of the diary” in 1947 and 1991. They add: "the copyrights to these adaptations have been vested in Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, who in effect created readable books from Anne Frank’s original writings."
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Diary of Anne Frank Subject To Copyright Dispute

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  • isn't it Anne Frank? or have i been an idiot about that this whole time.

    • oh nevermind they corrected it.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <.eb.ebucgnikoms. .ta. .ive.> on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:10PM (#51326853) Homepage

    - The original is public domain, someone is making it available which is entirely legal.
    - Someone else has copyright on the adaptation, the adaptation isn't being published as public domain.

    Why would the adapters claim copyright on the original by virtue of its adaptions? If that were the case, numerous people would be able to claim copyright on all biblical manuscripts or someone claiming copyright on papyrus artifacts or stone tablets at museums.

    • It's not clear that the guy published the original diary online. If he published the 1947 adaptation, the people who wrote/edited that adaptation might have a claim.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:07AM (#51327075) Homepage

      The full version has to my knownledge never been published, only the edited versions so I assume that is what is being made available. Now if it was an adaptation that would be copyrighted, like Disney turning old folk tales into movies. But it's not really an adaptation, it's an excerpt at least that is what is claimed. You can't find an old book with a hundred pages, pick ten and say this "adaptation" is copyrighted anew. Once the copyright expires the whole text is passed into the public domain and you can quote any parts you want. So...

      If the published versions are a strict subset of Anne Frank's writings, the copyright is expired. That they published selected diary entries can't prevent others from quoting them too. If they've done more than to retract certain entries and actually edit the diary then yes it's still copyrighted but its authenticity as the literal diary of Anne Frank is compromised. They can't have it both ways, either it is her diary and the copyright is expired or it's a post-war original work of authorship based on her diary, but not both.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:30AM (#51327147)

        They can't have it both ways, either it is her diary and the copyright is expired or it's a post-war original work of authorship based on her diary, but not both.

        Actually, that's precisely what they are claiming, and there are valid legal arguments for it under copyright law. Multiple new editions of an old work can be published and may be copyrighted. As someone who has worked on scholarly editions of source materials (though I've never been a primary author on one), there's a lot of original research that often goes into making judgment calls on how to take some handwritten source and turn it into a printed text. In particular, you often have multiple sources (e.g., different drafts, different fragments of manuscripts) which require reconciliation and interpretation.

        I don't know anything about the sources of Anne Frank's diary, though -- but I do know that apparently Anne Frank began rewriting some portions [wikipedia.org] with an intent on publication at some point in 1944. That presumably means that any edition would have to make choices about how to present the sections she originally wrote vs. her redrafted ones for publication, which also may require reconciling elements in the portions which had not been rewritten before her death to make sense with the ones which had been rewritten.

        This may or may not be a straightforward process to put all this together in a format that would be easily accessible and understood by readers. I don't know enough about the sources.

        Nevertheless, what we have here apparently is the following:

        (1) The first edited version was published in 1947 by Otto Frank. I don't know how much editing was done here, but apparently it was more than just selecting entries, given that there would be multiple versions of some entries. The copyright to that is claimed by Otto Frank, who died in 1980, and applicable copyright law for his version thus extends to 70 years after his death.

        (2) The original diaries were finally published in a scholarly "critical edition" in 1986. Under applicable copyright law at that time, posthumous publications were granted a 50 year term after the first PUBLICATION. So, that would extend to 50 years after 1986.

        Thus, yes it is both. It is her diary, but copyright law as of 1986 said what matters in posthumous publication was the date of publication, not when the author died. (That law has since been changed in the EU, but old works still under copyright are grandfathered in.) And it is also a post-war "original" edited work, whose copyright expires at a different date. This is actually quite common for scholarly editions, such as edited publications of correspondence by famous people, etc.

        • Perhaps under Dutch copyright law but EU copyright law (which didn't exist yet by then) which applies in this dispute trumps any Dutch laws (most laws have to be harmonized). Perhaps they might have a claim under French law but then they needed to have operated some sort of business in France at the time being (if I remember the old French laws correctly)

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @04:32AM (#51327669) Homepage

          At best Otto Frank was Ann Frank's editor. As far as I am aware this is one of a very few cases where the editor is claiming copyright and is thus highly dubious and open to legal challenge.

          The other editor claiming copyright I can think of is Christopher Tolkien.

          A similar dubious copyright claim is that of Lyn Pratchett who attributed as having copyright interests in Terry later books, something again which is legally dubious as she was not responsible for the creation of the books.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Christopher Tolkien has written more than his father, though. He has a massive amount of notes, back stories, and feedback to use as a reference for new works. This is no different from another author taking GRRM's notes and creating the final novels should he not live long enough to complete them himself. We've already seen this with WoT and Robert Jordan. Are you claiming GRRM and Jordan should get copyright for something they didn't write just because they had a few notes of the plot?

            And, no, I'm not a f

          • As far as I am aware this is one of a very few cases where the editor is claiming copyright and is thus highly dubious and open to legal challenge.

            Well, the general concept is NOT "highly dubious" -- editions are well-established in European law and are generally granted a 25-year copyright term (if I remember correctly).

            As I read more about the specific case of Anne Frank, though, it appears the publishers are trying to pull more significant shenanigans, effectively claiming Otto as a sort of co-author, rather than an editor. That seems a real stretch to me, but you'd have to look at how many changes he made and of what type before publication.

        • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @05:28AM (#51327819)

          As it stands, the diary as it is generally read in the US is severely abridged. Frank's original included significant discussion of all the other things that a girl going through puberty tends to experience - including sex drive and masturbation (and how this is affected by the kind of conditions she was living in).

          Those bits are usually left out of the version used in schools, which is the only version most Americans have ever read - which is a bloody tragedy.

          Then again - I bet most anti-refugee republicans have read the book while attending school, and I also bet none of them know that the Frank family had applied for refugee access to the USA before the war and been denied... I don't think they realize the irony of having once felt such sympathy with that young victim while now actively campaigning to create a whole new generation of her.

          The few who do would probably think it's hillarious to say something "like thank goodness for people like us then since clearly being a xenophobic asshole leads to the creation of rare and exceptional literature".

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The diary as it is generally read in the US is not in Dutch, so there is a separate copyright on that translated version.

          • I think it's hilarious that you turn a discussion about Anne Frank into a an anti-Republican diatribe.

            Quick: do you know the party of the president during WW2, the one that REJECTED refuge-seeking peoples of Europe, including a ship full of children?

            BTW there's a pretty huge gulf between "refugee family with children" and the "single, healthy, male 20-something" 'refugee' that is the individual most reasonable people are rejecting.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Someone in Djibouti or Yemen needs to put it online, as even if Otto Frank's claim is legit his copyright has expired in those countries anyway.

        • Would content that was common (verbatim copy) to both the 1947 and 1983 editions be considered "first published" in 1947?

          Assuming yes, then copyrights on the common content would likely expire based on either the 1944 authorship under 1944 laws or 1947 publication under 1947 posthumous-publication laws, probably whichever one gave a later expiration.

          Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on the Internet.

    • - The original is public domain, someone is making it available which is entirely legal.

      Well, maybe not. According to this [annefrank.ch], the original manuscripts were never actually published until a critical scholarly edition came out in 1986.

      And apparently under applicable law in 1986, what may matter is not when they were written, but when they were published. Apparently posthumous publication in some circumstances remained under copyright until 50 years after the first date of publication -- the date of the death of the author in this case is irrelevant. This provision about posthumous copyright w

      • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:41AM (#51327183) Homepage
        The diary was first published in 1947 in Dutch and in 1952 in English (the American edition). In 1986 a commented version was edited and published and in 2001 5 missing pages were added and published again. The 5 missing pages were removed by Anne's father, Otto, because these pages were showing tension between Otto and his wife and they were showing Anne was not loving so much her mother. These pages were given by Otto before his death to Cornelis Suijk who finally sold them to Anne Frank's foundation for 300 000 USD. Cornelis Suijk was previously director at the Anne Frank's foundation.
        • The diary was first published in 1947 in Dutch

          Not the original diary, but rather a version that apparently combined two existing versions [wikipedia.org], since Anne Frank apparently began rewriting sections, drafting them for publication before her death. Thus, the original 1947 publication was not a complete version of the whole thing, but rather an edition that reconciled various elements of the original to make something more readable and coherent.

          In 1986 a commented version was edited and published

          Yes, the first complete version of the original, apparently showing both the "A and B versions" of the rewritten entr

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            the present copyright holders are claiming whatever suits them at the time. the foundation claims anne as the original author on their page.

            then they go on to claim that all original author or such copyrights transferred to otto. so at time of publication (according to the text form the foundation) otto would have been holder of the copyrights and that anne is the original author. they will change the author(as editor) to otto soon enough I suppose.

            well, they don't say when it would expire. they're trying t

      • > the original manuscripts were never actually published until a critical scholarly edition came out in 1986.
        That doesn't actually matter. Copyright is automatic, and exists from the time of creation - not the time of publication. That's a Berne Convention standard so no signatory country's laws (and that includes all of Europe) can fail to comply with it.

        • That doesn't actually matter. Copyright is automatic, and exists from the time of creation - not the time of publication. That's a Berne Convention standard so no signatory country's laws (and that includes all of Europe) can fail to comply with it.

          Look -- I'm not a lawyer, but apparently prior to 1995 there was SOME law that stated posthumous publication fell under different laws. Apparently, that law is no longer in force but previously copyrighted works are grandfathered in. And apparently courts have agreed with this line of reasoning. (I've already said this repeatedly, but just to be clear, I think the length of time on these laws is stupid and the diary should be PD by now... that doesn't change legal arguments here, though.)

        • I can't speak for Europe, but in the USA, copyright was not automatic until relatively recent times.

          For awhile in the 20th century, US copyright was "almost automatic" - you had to either mark it (c) or register it within a few years of first publication or it would fall into the public domain.

          I assume something similar is/was true for the country or countries in Europe where the diary was published in its various editions.

    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @02:05AM (#51327409) Homepage Journal

      If that were the case, numerous people would be able to claim copyright on all biblical manuscripts

      Bible translators routinely enforce copyright in their translations. This is why the World English Bible (WEB) project [ebible.org] exists, to produce a revision of the pre-1923 ASV into contemporary English and license it under CC0.

      • A translation almost always requires human creative input (computer and "by-the-numbers" algorithmic translations and translations where there is only 1 reasonable translation are likely exceptions).

        A typeset letter-for-letter re-publication of ancient manuscripts should have no additional copyright, at least not in any sane copyright regime. Bear in mind that adding punctuation marks and spaces is, in many cases, a creative endeavor.

        Disclaimers:
        * I am not a lawyer.
        * I am not claiming that any modern copyr

        • A typeset letter-for-letter re-publication of ancient manuscripts should have no additional copyright

          A publisher doesn't have to publish the manuscripts at all; it can instead hoard them as trade secrets and publish only edited versions. Or it can take advantage of extended copyright terms that some countries apply to posthumous first publication, as AthanasiusKircher suggests [slashdot.org].

          • by davidwr ( 791652 )

            A publisher doesn't have to publish the manuscripts at all; it can instead hoard them as trade secrets and publish only edited versions.

            True, however almost all ancient Biblical manuscripts that were found before WWII saw the light of day long enough ago that they are in the public domain.

            I will concede that if new manuscripts were found today, those finding them would probably only publish them in full if it was in their financial or political interest to do so. That is, they would either have to make more money through publication than through hoarding or the political pressure (read: pressure from academics, the general public, governme

      • Bible translators routinely enforce copyright in their translations. This is why the World English Bible (WEB) project [ebible.org] exists, to produce a revision of the pre-1923 ASV into contemporary English and license it under CC0.

        I am not a lawyer, but have done some research into the matter. Each translation of the Bible (or other ancient manuscripts) can be copyrighted by the translator. Additionally, each new edition can copyright certain non-textual changes (such as headers, footers, page layout, etc) as well as textual changes (correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation). The 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is in the public domain, but the LdS Church (under the name Intellectual Reserves, if I remember correctly) has a copyri

    • > Someone else has copyright on the adaptation

      In order to enjoy protection, derivative works have to show significant derivation. It is not clear that a translation is such a thing, although I'm sure there's case law on this somewhere.

  • I was so much looking forward to the zombie version of the Diary of Ann Frank. Nothing spices up a public domain story like Nazi zombies.
    • Re:Oh, no! (Score:5, Funny)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:16PM (#51326887)

      I just knew someone would Godwin this discussion...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        so if we are talking about hitler and the nazis, what would be the parallel concept to indicate that the debate has gone off the rails?
        "hitler did this thing, which i believe was arguably positive"
        "so did ___________! and since ____________ was pure evil, you can't argue that this thing Hitler did was positive"
        hmm, who is THAT MUCH WORSE than Hitler?
        damn, now i can't use this faulty analogy in a debate about Hitler. I guess I'll have to use real logic instead.

        • Leopold the 1st of Belgium. His death-toll was just short of twice what Hitler did after all.

          So I propose an Ammendment to Godwin's law:
          In the event that somebody who actually knows the history of Leopold were to bring him up in a discussion that was about NAZIs in the first place, Godwin's law will apply.

          It also applies to this post in which the idea was first suggested.

      • Which Godwin? The attorney? Or Frankenstein's grandfather?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The book was published in Dutch in 1947 and copyright has expired. The French academic has published the DUTCH text.

    It's the *DEATH* part that's important. If Anne Frank wrote it, then its public domain, if her father wrote it (with a translator) then its not.
    However why would a translator be involved in a book in the original Dutch?

    The Anne Frank foundation is saying "this is a fraud, it wasn't really Anne Franks diary".

    This part:
    > "the copyrights to these adaptations have been vested in Otto Frank and

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      the source material is public domain.

      however, editing it, the foreword etc are not.

      I think what it comes down to is who they attributed it to when they published. for marketing reasons I guess Anne..

  • Yet more proof ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:19PM (#51326899)

    ... greed destroys history.

    We already have this shenanigans with early 8-bit software lost to the annuls of time because of some bullshit copyright that we're not allowed to preserve for fear that someday, somewhere, some company will want to try to "leverage" archaic Imaginary Property.
     

    • > greed destroys history

      In this case, the dispute is between the Anne Frank Foundation, which gives all proceeds to charity, and someone who wants to publish it online at no charge. I guess if you call giving money away to UNICEF "greed" ...

      Last month, a court ruled on this case. Under Dutch copyright law, a work first published posthumously before 1995 remains protected for 50 years after the initial publication. It was first published in 1986, so protection ends 50 years later, in 2036.

      • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:07AM (#51327077)

        "which gives all proceeds to charity"

        I don't think I've ever encountered a "charity" that didn't skim a fair amount of the money off of the top for someones personal enrichment. It should also be noted that there are apparently two "Anne Frank" charities, The "Anne Frank Foundation" and the "Anne Frank Fund" which have had their own little legal squabbles in the past over the "over-commercialization of Anne’s legacy".

        http://nonprofitquarterly.org/... [nonprofitquarterly.org]

        • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @01:28AM (#51327321) Homepage

          I don't think I've ever encountered a "charity" that didn't skim a fair amount of the money off of the top for someones personal enrichment.

          Things like the former director of the charity selling 7 pages that were handed to him while he was director back to the charity for $300k, for example.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes. I've seen it personally many times. The number of charities that give 6-figure salaries to their management is eye-opening.

          The argument you will hear 100% of the time in these cases is: "If I worked in the for-profit sector, this is how much I'd make".

          Except for, that's pretty much never true. I work in the for-profit sector, but with many non-profit charities. And I know exactly how hard it is to work in the for-profit sector. These non-profit parasites deeply overvalue their abilities and their wo

          • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
            I see this on the IT side. Non-profits like to pretend they are important and make up all kinds of justifications for why they need to waste money on this or that. It's tragic and hilarious at the same time.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          I've encountered plenty that don't - you can spot them by looking for unpaid volunteers at the exec level instead of the scams with fatcats on the board leeching millions that you seem to think is the norm.
          Ironically some of the "non-profits" (not actually a charity) who have the task of collecting copyright royalties for artists fit the scam status, there was one in the UK that was a black hole taking money in, not letting it out and paying millions to the directors of the org.
      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        I guess if you define furthening the cause of paying more people salaries from the foundation as charity. they don't provide a financial statement to be easily found either(unlike some other anne frank related foundations).

        also the foundation seems to be rather.. weird in their reading of copyright law.

        in short, the foundation claims that " This is why the foundation owns and administers the rights to all writings of ANNE FRANK.". they claim that otto frank owned all copyrights of anne frank and otto trans

      • "I guess if you call giving money away to UNICEF "greed" ..."

        No, I just call that a fucking waste of money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:30PM (#51326951)

    The debate over whether editors have a copyright interest in a given work is not a new debate. What is different about this case is that the author could not have any say over how her works were edited or say over whether her writings should have been published in the first place. Most of the edits done were to remove personal family information or mundane aspects of Anne's life. Because most of the edits were removing information, I'd suggest that Otto could not be considered an author. Indeed, in all the copies I have seen published, none of them credit Otto or Mirjam as co-authors. While they may have some copyright claim previously, those copyrights ended with the life of the author plus 70 years, not editor plus 70 years, and not publisher plus 70 years.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:44AM (#51327195)

      The debate over whether editors have a copyright interest in a given work is not a new debate. What is different about this case is that the author could not have any say over how her works were edited or say over whether her writings should have been published in the first place.

      This is not a unique issue at all. Famous people of the past often have left behind hoards of unpublished papers, correspondence, etc. Many scholars create editions of such things, often long after those people have died -- sometimes centuries later.

      In these cases, it is generally standard that the editor/compiler holds copyright on that edition from the date of publication, rather than anything having to do with the death of the author. Of course the original documents may long ago have become public domain (and hence may be republished freely without permission), but the edition generally requires quite a bit of work to put together. (I admit I know very little about how much was done in the case Anne Frank, though.)

      Indeed, in all the copies I have seen published, none of them credit Otto or Mirjam as co-authors.

      This is the more interesting issue, to me. If these publications actually ascribed the work completely to Anne Frank, even if they were edited, then Otto Frank should be considered more as an editor in the sense of an internal copyeditor at a publishing house that cleans up a manuscript, rather than as a "scholarly" editor who has to make tough decisions about reconciling different versions of texts and how to turn an unedited mess into something comprehensible. The latter is generally entitled to be treated as an "editor" in the formal sense and perhaps granted copyright, but the former is not generally entitled to such protections.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      It's a stupid system, but an editor/publisher of a work after the author's death is considered the original author. At least for copyright. "Author" + 70 only applies to published works. Since the work wasn't published until after the author's death, the author isn't the author. Like I said, stupid, but always done in the manner that keeps works out of public domain as much as possible.
  • Cynical Question (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:41PM (#51326981)

    I've seen a lot of "charities" that are family controlled and pay amazingly high executive salaries. At the same time, the workers make near min. wage or volunteer their time. Another trick is to have the charity pay for meals, flights, leased cars, etc. for the executives.

    I would want to see the full, actual financials of this charity before I have an opinion.

    • So, you may be interested in this I posted earlier in reply to another post.

      "The diary was first published in 1947 in Dutch and in 1952 in English (the American edition). In 1986 a commented version was edited and published and in 2001 5 missing pages were added and published again. The 5 missing pages were removed by Anne's father, Otto, because these pages were showing tension between Otto and his wife and they were showing Anne was not loving so much her mother. These pages were given by Otto before his death to Cornelis Suijk who finally sold them to Anne Frank's foundation for 300 000 USD. Cornelis Suijk was previously director at the Anne Frank's foundation."

      This Cornelis Suijk looks like some of these guys you described.

    • I've seen a lot of "charities" that are family controlled and pay amazingly high executive salaries

      Including a little company that trades under the name "Ikea". But one of Ikea's biggest costs: licensing the "Ikea" name from the Kamprad family.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:51PM (#51327017) Homepage Journal

    The original diary, and any direct quotations from it that show up in edited editions, are in the public domain (in Europe)

    Editions consisting only of quotations from the original, such as "censored" editions, are in the public domain.

    Editions which have copyright-able creative content added by someone else are the works of more than one author and the death of Anne Frank 70 years ago doesn't put the entire work in the public domain, just those parts that are direct quotations or non-copyright-able changes. These are similar to musical arrangements - the authorship of the arrangement is shared.

    Translations generally get a fresh copyright (well, at least those done by professional human translators - which is almost certainly true here), so they aren't automatically in the public domain. Short excerpts from a translation where there is only one reasonable way to translation the original probably are in the public domain, as there was no creativity involved in translating that short section. However, anything longer than a few sentences and excerpts longer than a few words can be translated multiple ways and the translator probably has a copyright interest. A machine-translation or an "algorithmic" translation done by a human which has only one possible outcome (basically, a "human computer" doing the translation) very likely does not have a fresh copyright.

    Here's the rub:

    I don't know if the actual original manuscripts are available for inspection. If they are not, then anyone re-publishing any published materials is taking a big legal gamble.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

  • I blame Disney, and anybody who gives them money like people going to see Star Wars.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager killed by the Nazis whose writing survived in the Amsterdam building where she had hidden, is causing problems.

    Spoilers! T_T

  • by Elledan ( 582730 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @03:33AM (#51327545) Homepage
    As a sidenote: Hitler's Mein Kampf has passed into the public domain last year without too much of a fuss.

    That Anne Frank's diary is currently mired in copyright disputes thus could be seen as a kind of very painful irony.
    • There wasn't an Adolf Hilter Children's Fund to pay for a lawsuit to keep it out of the public domain, like there is for most famous literary works.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mein Kampf was released first time while author was alive and that version was not modified by other people after his death. However, if you take Mein Kampf and create edited version of it, you will hold copyright over edited version.

  • Change the copyright term retroactively to 10 years with two possible 10-year extensions (the first one quite reasonably priced, the second quite expensive to prevent frivolous extensions) and this won't be a problem. Remember, since people holding copyrighted works saw their investments diminished in value because of retroactive copyright extensions, in many cases delaying public domain status until after their own deaths, a retroactive copyright term reduction should also be without compensation.

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