French academic defies Anne Frank Fund, publishes diaries online

Anne Frank diaryA French academic has placed the integral Dutch text of Anne Frank’s World War II diaries online, despite claims it is still subject to copyright.

Olivier Ertzscheid says it is of primary importance that everyone has access to ‘this essential voice in the collective history of mankind’, and has defied lawyers’ letters urging him not to go ahead.

Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 and copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the author.


However, the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund, which owns the copyright, says the diaries are protected until at least 2037, 50 years on from the publication of a new, more complete version in 1985. The Fund also says Anne’s father, Otto, had done so much work on the most widely published version that he had ‘earned his own copyright’.

Its lawyers have written to Ertscheid, warning him he will be liable for damages if he goes ahead with the publication.

A second copyright dispute has also just been ruled on by judges in Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam-based Anne Frank Foundation has had several legal disputes with the Fund and denies Otto Frank should be considered a co-author, although it accepts that the 1985 version should have a longer copyright.

The Foundation, which runs the house where Anne lived in hiding during the war, is working on a new academic version of the diaries, which it plans to publish in the near future.

Amsterdam court

The Basel-based Fund had tried to have this publication stopped under copyright rules, but judges in Amsterdam said earlier this week the original text of Anne Frank’s diaries may be copied for academic research.

The court said that in this case at least, scientific freedom is more important than protecting copyright and that Anne’s legacy as a writer is of great historical and social importance.

‘The [Basel] fund would appear to be claiming the right to determine what sort of scientific research takes place and that right is not protected by copyright laws,’ the court said in its ruling.

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