1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Copyright ban over Hitler's Mein Kampf

As reported by Der Spiegel, British publisher Alberta's Peter McGee wishes to sell excerpts from Hitler's Mein Kampf in Germany.

Plans to re-publish an annotated version of Hitler's autobiography for educational purposes in schools and universities in 2015 (when the copyright currently held by the Bavarian state government expires) had been announced back in 2010. However, since then, the Bavarian government has opposed the plan, citing respect for victims of the Holocaust. The Bavarian Finance Ministry said that permits for reprints would not be issued, at home or abroad and the republished book might be banned as Nazi propaganda, reports Wikipedia
The first of three 16-page extracts from the Alberta proposed publication, accompanied by a critical commentary, will be published later this month with a print run of 100,000 each and distributed as a supplement to the Alberta's existing weekly publication, a controversial series called Zeitungszeugen, or "Newspaper Witnesses", which reprints pages of Nazi newspapers from the 1920s and 1930s, along with a commentary. The authorities in the state of Bavaria confiscated more than 3,000 copies of Zeitungszeugen and pressed charges against McGee for publishing the texts. However, in 2009 a Munich court ruled that, although the publication of Nazi propaganda is illegal, McGee was not infringing the law because his intention was not to whip up racial hatred. The judges also ruled that printing Nazi swastikas from the original mastheads, which are generally outlawed in Germany, was legal in an educational context, reports The Local.
The front cover of Alberta's Mein Kampf should feature a photo of Hitler with a black bar obscuring his eyes and a headline that translates to "The unreadable book." This would be the  first publication of the book in Germany since 1945.
"It is a sensitive subject in Germany but the incredible thing is most Germans don't have access to 'Mein Kampf' because it has this taboo, this 'black magic' surrounding it," said McGee to Reuters. "We want 'Mein Kampf' to be accessible so people can see it for what it is, and then discard it. Once exposed, it can be consigned to the dustbin of literature," 
The Bavarian state finance ministry opposes Alberta's plans, claiming that the publication of Mein Kampf would be tantamount to copyright infringement. "The Bavarian finance ministry is currently considering legal steps against this publication" a spokesman for the ministry said in a statement.
McGee regards this as nonsense, reports Der Spiegel. "Mein Kampf is an extremely bad book, it is badly written, has awkward language and no internal logic" he said. "The thoughts are strewn across the whole book." But he added that one can only recognise its insanity if one confronts the text.
The President of Germany's Central Council of Jews said he hoped that the reprints would ‘demystify" the book. "I'm an Internet junkie myself" he said. "Everyone can already find the book on the Web." However, an American Jewish group on Tuesday said the publication plans may be morally offensive. 

3 comments:

Andy J said...

Just the tiniest quibble: copyright in Mein Kampf does not expire until the end of 2015, not in 2015.

Eleonora Rosati said...

:-)

Claudia Hiller said...

I have looked at a copy of "Zeitungszeugen" - and did not like its "make-up", i.e. Nazi original newspaper reprints "surrounded" by a double page in modern print with critical modern evaluation. Nothing against the idea to inform people about how newspapers "worked" during the Hitler Regime, but I would think it would be much better to publish original texts and modern comments on the same page as it is being done in books of historians. The "make up" of "Zeitungszeugen" makes it very easy just to take away those modern comments, i. e. what is left looks like a Nazi Newspaper (original style of type setting plus original colour of pages) WITHOUT the Impressum comment that the publishing house does not agree with the contents of the historical Nazi newspapers inside, because that comment is on the modern pages which "surround" the nazi original which is put inside like a supplement. On the original Nazi newspapers "Zeitungszeugen - Geschichte erlesen" is printed in very small print on the very top, and only on the front page.
In short: The supplement inside "Zeitungszeugen" must be really nice to look at for old and neo-Nazis, esp. as "Zeitungszeugen" is not only used to study history in schools as indicated by the publishing house, but available at normal newspapers stands in Germany.