A copyright fight is brewing in Europe this week as the deadline after which two key WWII-era texts will fall within the public domain steadily approaches. In Europe, a book becomes public domain 70 years after the author’s death, on the first day of January. This Friday, January 1st, both Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf will enter the public domain.
Olivier Ertzscheid, a lecturer at the University of Nantes and self-proclaimed copyright “activist,” and Isabelle Attard, a member of the French parliament, both told Agence France-Presse that they planned to publish version of the diary online—Ertzscheid in the original Dutch, Attard in French.
The Basel-based Anne Frank Fund, which holds the rights to publication, said that it had threatened legal action if the diary was published. From AFP:
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 criticised the move as a “question of money”, adding that if the work was in the public domain Frank would win “even more renown”.
Meanwhile, Mein Kampf will also enter the public domain on Friday. The southern German state of Bavaria has held the book’s copyright since Hitler’s death in 1945. According to AFP, the state has not permitted the text to be republished in 70 years out of respect for the Nazis’ victims. (Some 12.4 million copies were printed before the Nazis’ fall.)
Since 2009, however, historians at the Institute of Contemporary History of Munich have prepared an annotated version of the 800 page text that runs to 2,000 pages, in two volumes, that intends to “deconstruct and put into context Hitler’s writing.” The Associated Press reports that only 4,000 copies have been printed. It will retail at $65.