Today, World Intellectual Property Day, the original, Dutch-language version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is published online at annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl. This is the first time internet users are able to read the original writings of Anne Frank online. However, this publication is only available in Poland as Anne Frank’s original writings are still protected by copyright in most member states of the European Union. With this publication of the original version of the diary we, together with Centrum Cyfrowe and the COMMUNIA International Association on the Public Domain, seek to highlight the absurdly long duration of copyright in the EU, as well as the fact that, contrary to general assumptions, the duration of copyright is still not harmonised across the EU and the troubling fact of geo-blocking which creates boundaries online.
The normal term of copyright protection ends 70 years after the death of the author. Anne Frank++Anne FrankAnne Frank was a Jewish girl and well known for her diary, which documents her life in hiding during World War 2. She died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. died in 1945, and therefore her original writings should be in the public domain by now. However, at this moment, access to her original writings is still extremely limited. We believe that the public has the right to access these works of huge historic importance and we deplore the fact that in many EU member states obscure transitional provisions of copyright law can be employed to limit access to a work that belongs to the public domain and that should be available online for anyone to access and study.We believe that the public has the right to access these works of huge historic importance and we deplore the fact that in many EU member states obscure transitional provisions of copyright law can be employed to limit access to a work that belongs to the public domain and that should be available online for anyone to access and study. By making her original writings available to a broader audience, we emphasize the historical significance of Anne Frank’s diary, and the importance of freedom and democracy.
This publication is a call on the European legislator to fully harmonise copyright terms across the EU and shorten them to the internationally required minimum standard of 50 years after the death of the author. Moreover, this is a call on the Anne Frank Fonds++Anne Frank FondsThe Anne Frank Fonds is a Swiss foundation that owns the copyright of Anne’s original writings. to stop suppressing the availability of this important historical document by waiving its copyrights in the original versions (A+B) or authorising online publication under a Creative Commons license.
Different versions of Anne Frank’s diary
The diary of Anne Frank was first published in the Netherlands in 1947 under the title ‘Het Achterhuis’ and has since been translated into more than 60 languages. This publication was compiled by Anne’s father Otto Frank on the basis of two original versions of the diaries kept by Anne Frank. The first version is a series of notebooks that Anne wrote between 14 June 1942 and 1 August 1944. These original diary entries are referred to as version A. In addition to this version, Anne rewrote parts of her diaries after she had heard a call on the radio to keep diaries for post-war publication. These rewritten diary entries are referred to as version B.
The original version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ published now (version A) remains in copyright in the Netherlands and a number of other member states until at least 2037.The original version of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ published now (version A) remains in copyright in the Netherlands and a number of other member states until at least 2037. This is due to the fact that until the implementation of a new unified European copyright term in 1995++Harmonising EU copyright In 1993, a European Union directive in the field of copyright law was made, harmonising the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights. This directive was implemented in 1995., works published posthumously are protected for 50 years after their first publication. The original writings of Anne Frank were first published in 1986 by the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). This publication included version A, version B, and the version Otto Frank compiled in 1947 (version C). The copyright of all three versions is owned by the Anne Frank Fonds, a Basel, Switzerland-based foundation that “promotes charitable works and plays a social and cultural role in the spirit of Anne Frank”.
To this day, the 1947 version is the only version that is widely available in bookstores. The A and B version have been published in a series of scientific editions, but these editions are only available via second-hand channels. The Anne Frank Fonds has used its copyright to prevent the online publication of any version of Anne Frank’s diaries. In 2015++Copyright issueIn 2011, the Huygens Institute and the Anne Frank House began new textual and historical research on Anne Frank’s manuscripts. According to the Anne Frank Fonds they were infringing copyright by doing their research. it sued the Huygens Institute of the Royal Academy of Sciences in the Netherlands to prevent the online publication of an annotated version of the original writings.
#ReadAnneDiary on World Intellectual Property Day
On 26 April it is World Intellectual Property Day to “learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity”. The original version of Anne Frank’s diary is an important historical work, which should be available in the public domain across Europe.The original version of Anne Frank’s diary is an important historical work, which should be available in the public domain across Europe. But now, it will not be accessible anywhere except for Poland. Internet users who try to access the online version from outside Poland will be presented a geo-blocked version of the website which explains that they cannot access the diaries because of longer copyright terms in their home countries.