The Death of the Authors, 1945: Anne Frank’s collective voice


In 1945 the fifteen year old girl Anne Frank died in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. Her diary would have entered the public domain on 1 January 2016, but the arrival of this event caused a lot of commotion. The Anne Frank Foundation, an organisation that was set up by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, collects the rights that come from the sales of the world most known diary. Parts of these benefits are regularly donated to charities. They claim that Anne’s diary is still under copyright till 1 January 2051.
The book as we know it, published in 1947 in Dutch under the title Het Achterhuis (The Back House), is a compilation by Anne’s father, Otto Frank. He copied and pasted fragments from the original manuscripts. And he would also have rewritten parts of the diary in his own style, which would make the book a derived work, and Anne’s father the co-author. In this case, the copyright would expire only seventy years after his death in 1980. In the Netherlands and Belgium the fragments of the original manuscripts are in the public domain. The question remains whether the fragments Otto Frank has rewritten can be considered as an artistic intervention.

As an experiment, but also as a paragon of the complexity that is so often hidden behind the notion of the ’public domain’,we free Anne’s Diary sentence by sentence. You are warmly invited to lend your voice to one or more sentences. You will be able to listen to the spoken sentences in random order.
By recording a sentence you contribute to the construction of Anne Franks collective voice, as a call for worldwide freedom, tolerance and inclusivity. Furthermore, the sentences will be donated as trainingdata for free speech recognition softwares, like Voxforge, which suffer from a crucial lack of Dutch spoken language.

The day the journal will be entirely in the public domain, the textbook will be freely available, as well as this collective audiobook. This promise will be integrated in the testaments of the two authors of this work, Stéphanie Vilayphiou and An Mertens.