As of yesterday, you can now read Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl online for free. But there are some people who are pretty ticked off about that. Namely, the Anne Frank Fund in Basel, Switzerland, which is the entity that holds the copyright to Frank’s famous work.
According to a European law in effect since 1993, a literary work enters the public domain at the beginning of the 7th decade after its author passes away. Anne Frank died when she was 15 years old in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Since 2016 marks the 71st year since her death, her diary is now officially in the public domain under the 1993 law. What exactly does “public domain” mean? It means the the work now belongs to the public as a whole and is no longer subject to copyright, which is why you can now download it and it won’t cost you a dime. (Although, you might want to brush up on your foreign language skills because the book was posted in its original Dutch.)
The diary has been posted by two different individuals (so far), University of Nantes lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid and French parliament member Isabelle Attard. According to ABC News, Ertzscheid believes, “in regards to this book, this testimony and what it represents…I bear the conviction that there is no greater combat than to fight for its freedom, no greater tribute than share it without restriction.”
The Anne Frank Fund disagrees. They allege that the diary is a posthumous work of literature, which would extend the copyright by 50 years past its date of publication. They also contend the 1986 version of the diary published by the Dutch State Institute for War Documentation is under copyright protection until at least 2037. Prior to the 1st of the year, the fund threatened legal action if the book was published online. It looks like there might be a massive lawsuit in the near future surrounding one of the best-selling books of all time.
On her personal blog, Isabelle Attard said the argument surrounding the diary was a “question of money.” She wrote, “Dear Anne Frank, have the intelligence to finally give you the light you deserve, one that deserves your journal, that of the public space. Welcome to the light, dear Anne.”
Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into over 67 languages and sold over 30 million copies. Anne wrote the diary from June 1942 to August 1944, while hiding from Nazi persecution in an attic apartment Amsterdam. Writing the diary helped her survive and stay hopeful when her world was coming apart at the seams. In her own words, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
(Image via Twitter.)