You cannot view the Diary because of ©


On this year’s ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ (April 26) we’re highlighting one of the absurd consequences of the fragmented copyright regime in the European Union.

One of the most iconic literary works of the 20th century is The Diary of Anne Frank (‘Het Achterhuis’ in Dutch). It should have become part of the public domain in 2016, because the copyright in the work should have expired (copyright typically lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years, and Frank tragically died in 1945). However, as of today the diary is only in the public domain in a few countries, including Poland. In most other European countries, the well-known work remains restricted under copyright.

Today, the Polish digital education organisation Centrum Cyfrowe published The Diary of Anne Frank online. But unless you’re in Poland, you won’t be able to access the online version of the diary. Why? Because EU copyright law only permits publication of the diary in countries where it is in the public domain. For now, the diary will remain geo-blocked, and only visible to users access it from within Poland.

We’re saddened that the online version of The Diary of Anne Frank cannot be more widely shared. We believe that it should be a part of the global public domain and freely accessible to everyone who wants to read and experience this important cultural work. We call upon European legislators to end the absurdity that has led to this situation. The Diary should be a powerful part of our collectively-shared public domain. Instead, the fragmented, varied rules about the duration of copyright across Europe has made the work inaccessible to so many potential readers. We call for the harmonisation (and preferably, shortening) of copyright terms. And geo-blocking—in which access to content is determined based on the location of the user—needs to end.

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April 26th, World Intellectual Property Day, is a good moment to highlight the absurdly long duration of copyright in the EU, the fact that, contrary to general assumptions, the duration of copyright is still not harmonized across the EU and the troubling fact of geoblocking which creates boundaries online.

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The manuscripts of Anne Frank were included in 2009 in UNESCO Memory of the World Register - the World Heritage List for documents.