The widely read “Diary of a Young Girl,” by Anne Frank, was actually written by a young girl and her dad, according to the Anne Frank Fonds at least.
Last weekend, the New York Times reported that the Swiss foundation, which holds the copyright to the book, has added Otto Frank as a legal co-author of the work. It’s long been known that her father edited and compiled Anne’s diary entries, which detailed her family’s time in hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. He also wrote a prologue, assuring readers that the words were mostly his daughter’s.
This shift in Otto’s role from editor to author comes just months before the copyright on the book is set to expire in most of Europe on Jan. 1. Copyrights in Europe normally end 70 years after the author’s death. The anniversary of Anne’s death passed this year, but Otto did not pass away until 1980, which would let Anne Frank Fonds maintain rights until 2050.
If this claim is successful, there’s room for it to be extended even beyond that date. Mirjam Pressler was brought on as a second editor for the Diary’s definitive edition in 1991. The Times reports that she added 25 per cent more material. Pressler is still living, and should she be added as another co-author, Anne Frank Fonds could extend their rights well beyond 2050.
This change has not been well-received by some. Parisian lawyer Agnès Tricoire told the Times, If you follow their arguments, it means that they have lied for years about the fact that it was only written by Anne Frank.”
The “Times” also spoke to French politician Isabelle Attard who said, “The best protection of the work is to bring it in the public domain, because its audience will grow even more,”
While the Anne Frank Fonds, founded by Otto, does donate some of the royalties of the diary to charities around the world, some don’t agree with the private hold to Anne Frank’s words.
Writer Cory Doctorow went as far as to write a post entitled “Copyfraud” for BoingBoing.net. In it he criticizes the monopoly on the book and agrees that “virtually every historical person, from St Francis to Shakespeare, is in the public domain.”