A legal case involving the Diary of Anne Frank may affect many other publications, even including genealogy books published in the United States and many other countries.
Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager killed by the Nazis whose writing survived in the Amsterdam building where she had hidden. 70 years have passed since her death. As the author, she owned the copyrights. After her death, the copyrights are legally passed on her heirs. In this case, Anne Frank’s heirs were her parents and, later, other relatives who would inherit the property and the rights of the parents. Under European laws, any book published at that time becomes public domain 70 years after publication.
A French academic has made the Diary of Anne Frank available online with profits going to charity. However, the Anne Frank Fonds, the foundation established by Anne’s father Otto Frank, claims that: “Otto Frank and children’s author and translator, Mirjam Pressler, were inter alia responsible for the various edited versions of fragments of the diary” in 1947 and 1991. They add: “the copyrights to these adaptations have been vested in Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, who in effect created readable books from Anne Frank’s original writings.” In other words, the book should not be considered to be in the public domain today.
European laws obviously are not the same as U.S. laws or the laws of other countries. However, the various nations often agree with each other and enforce each other’s copyright laws. If one country changes its copyright laws, other nations often enact similar legislation within a few years.
The present case involving the Diary of Anne Frank is described in an article by Alison Flood in The Guardian at http://goo.gl/BxLQmI.