Felix Stalder on Thu, 23 Jun 2005 19:05:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Using copyright to stop the publication of 'mein kampf'

Here's an interesting use of copyright for all of those who track its (ab)use for
political reasons. In Poland, publisher Marek Skierkowski is being investigated on
behalf of the state of Bavaria for infringing on its copyright on the works of
Adolf Hitler.

The case is the following: The publisher, who has no history of neo-Nazi
sympathizing, decided to publish Mein Kampf purely for commercial reasons. Now,
Poland -- like many other countries in Europe -- has a law criminalizing
distribution of fascist propaganda (?246 of Polish criminal code). However, the
publisher could convince the state attorney that Mein Kampf does not constitute
current political propaganda, but has to be viewed as a historic document and that
making it accessible would serve historic and scientific purposes, not the least
because he is clearly not politically motivated. Since he does not try to convince
anyone of any political views, his publication do not constitute propaganda, so the
reasoning of the attorney.

What does this have to do with copyright and Bavaria? After WWII, the state of
Bavaria was given by the allies all the copy- and author's rights belonging to
Hitler, because he was officially registered as a Munich resident by the end of the
war. And now, Bavaria tries to use its copyrights to stop the publication in Poland
after the application of national criminal law failed to do so.  Bavaria holds the
copyrights for another ten years (70 years after the death of the author) after
which it falls into the public domain.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,361691,00.html


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