Anne Frank (1929 – 1945) writes at her desk in Amsterdam prior to her and her family going into hiding during World War II. (credit: Anne Frank Fonds via Getty Images)
The diary of Anne Frank is just six weeks away from entering the public domain in most of Europe—but it might not happen. The Basel-based Anne Frank Fonds, which owns the copyright, has a plan to retain ownership until 2050.
Anne Frank and her family famously hid from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam during World War Two. They were ultimately discovered, and Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Her father, Otto Frank, survived the Holocaust and published her diaries and notebooks.
Most European copyrights end 70 years after the author’s death, meaning that on Jan. 1, 2016, the diary becomes public domain in much of the continent. But the Anne Frank foundation has a new legal strategy to keep its most valuable copyright: declare that Otto Frank is actually a “co-author” of the diaries, not merely an editor. Since Otto Frank died in 1980, anything he authored will stay under copyright until 2050. (The book was first published in the US in 1952, so copyright stateside will last until 2047 regardless of what happens in Europe.)
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