PARIS – An academic and a French MP have announced plans to publish the famous diary of Anne Frank online on Friday, with the organization holding publication rights threatening legal action.
University of Nantes lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid told AFP on Wednesday that the planned Jan. 1 publication date in the diary’s original Dutch would be after the “Diary of a Young Girl” falls within public domain. European copyright law dictates that a book become public domain on the first day of January 70 years after the author’s death.
Anne Frank, who penned the historic diary during World War II, died at the age of 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Her diary is one of the primary pieces of literature detailing life in Nazi-era Europe, with more than 30 million copies sold since its publication in 1947.
Ertzscheid, who describes himself as a “activist” when it comes to public domain, calls the pushback against publication “appalling,” adding that anti-Semitic works such as Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” will enter the public domain on Friday.
The researcher had in October published on his website two French versions of the book, only to take them down after the Livre du Poche publisher sent a formal notice stating that copyright for translators was still in effect.
French parliament member Isabelle Attard also plans to publish the book in its original Dutch on the first day of the new year.
The Anne Frank Fund, based in Basel, Switzerland, holds the rights to publication and told AFP that it had sent a letter threatening legal action if the diary was published.
The Fund argues that the book is a posthumous work, for which copyright extends 50 years past the publication date, and that a 1986 version published by the Dutch State Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) is under copyright until at least 2037.
Attard criticized the move as a “question of money,” adding that if the work was in the public domain Frank would win “even more renown.”