Why Are the Copyright Owners of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ Saying it Was Co-Authored?


The Anne Frank Fonds has announced it intends to re-file their copyright of Anne Frank’s famous diary, adding Anne’s father Otto Frank (who incidentally established the Anne Frank Fonds in 1963) as a co-author of the book.

Why is this happening? Because The Diary of Anne Frank was supposed to enter the public domain on January, 1, 2016.

Otto Frank did, in fact, edit the diary before it was published in 1952. The foundation says that re-working of the text should be recognized. However, as the The New York Times points out, adding Mr. Frank’s byline allows the foundation to retain the rights to the book (and to royalties) until 2047 in the U.S. and 2050 in Europe.

As you might expect (or at least hope), a move this transparently motivated is not exactly iron-clad, and there are a few parties who may be interested in moving to fight the claim. At the top of said list is the Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam, which has been waiting for the diary to enter the public domain before publishing their annotated version of the diary.

Others are mad because the change would diminish Anne Frank’s contribution to her own story. Others still thin the book should be allowed to enter the public domain in order to expand its readership. Some of these critics, according to The Times‘ report, have published excerpts of the book online in protest.

The Anne Frank Fonds was created by Mr. Frank to parse out profits from the book to various charities. According to self-reported data, it gives $1.5 million annually to non-profits.