New Historian

Foundation Claims Anne Frank’s Diary Was Co-Authored

Statue of Anne Frank in Amsterdam (2)

<![CDATA[The Diary of Anne Frank was first published in Europe in 1947, and the US in 1952. Anne Frank died when she was only 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp but the diary she kept while her family hid to avoid Nazi persecution during WWII survived. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only family member to survive the camps and he was instrumental in getting his daughter's writings published as the book we know today. We're all familiar with the story contained in the red and white checkered diary. A story told through the eyes of a teenage girl - or so we thought. The Swiss foundation which owns the copyright to the book, Anne Frank Fonds, has reported that Otto Frank will now be listed as the book's co-author. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death. Coincidentally, European copyright laws state that 70 years after the death of an author all copyrights for their work expire and become public domain – meaning they’re available to any and everyone at no cost and for almost any purpose. The copyright for this book was set to expire January 1, 2016. If Anne's father is acknowledged as a co-author however, then that same 70-year window would start at his death in 1980, which means the copyright would remain with the foundation until 2050; another 35 years. Incidentally, U.S. copyrights extend for 95 years after the author's death, and the laws vary from country to country. In Canada for example, the copyright extends for only 50 years. Despite the Swiss foundation's altruistic claims of wanting to protect Anne’s legacy by continuing to control how the book is used, many in the industry see the move simply as a money grab. The foundation, which donates proceeds from the book to several charitable organizations, (they claimed to have donated 1.5 million in 2014) is not legally required to divulge its records. Otto Frank has always been credited as one of the book's editors and he maintained throughout his life that the majority of the book’s contents were his daughter’s words. The foundation's recent actions seem to contradict this long-held belief and have many people in the industry questioning; 1) the foundation's true motivations, and 2) if the foundation believed Otto Frank was a true co-author, have they been intentionally misleading the public by not making the claim before now? The Diary of Anne Frank has sold over 30 million copies and has been translated into more than seventy languages. Many publishers who had planned on releasing new editions of the book after the copyright expired have had to reconsider their position. However, under the current law it would seem that the Anne Frank Fond is well within its rights to add Otto as a co-author without providing any level of proof and with no appeal process. As to the claim that being in the public domain is detrimental to one’s legacy, many experts point out that practically all historical figures – from Shakespeare to saints – are in the public domain, and the idea of shared ownership and responsibility is what truly maintains a legacy. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: Stephane D'Alu]]>

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