US copyright law seems hell-bent on keeping The Diary of Anne Frank out of the public domain.
When the copyright in the Netherlands for this seminal autobiographical work on the Holocaust expired in January of 2016, it was uploaded to several locations, including by the Wikimedia Foundation. However, it wasn’t long until Wikimedia was forced to take it down, citing concerns over the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that copyrights extend 95 years after the original date of publication (as opposed to with the Netherlands’ 70 years after the author’s death).
According to Jacob Rogers, counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation:
“Today, in an unfortunate example of the overreach of the United States’ current copyright law, the Wikimedia Foundation removed the Dutch-language text of The Diary of a Young Girl.”
We previously mentioned how, through a twisted abuse of copyright law, Anne Frank Fonds, the foundation holding the copyright for The Diary of Anne Frank, hopes to keep it out of the public domain for another 34 years. The foundation made a last-minute claim that Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, co-authored the book, rather than simply serving as an editor. Instead of entering the public domain in 2016, 70 years after Anne’s passing, this would extend the copyright until 70 years after Otto’s death (2050 AD) – allowing Anne Frank Fonds to continue to rake in royalty checks for another few decades.
Archaic and easily-abused copyright law, supposedly put in place to protect authors, instead smothers the free flow of information. We hope US legislators release their grip on Anne Frank’s diary so its profound insights can be shared with the world.