The struggle for the re-publication of Mein Kampf - intellectual property, agency, enlightenment

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup

Abstract


In 2015 the rights to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf falls into the public domain. The current copyright holder is the Bavarian state, owners of Hitler's estate as part of the Allies' de-Nazification program in 1945. While Nazi regalia such as the Swastika are outlawed in Germany under the postwar constitution, Mein Kampf was subject to a 70-year copyright lodged with the state authorities where the book was written. The Bavarian Finance Ministry aim to "pass the baton on" and achieve some means of banning the book in perpetuity, once copyright expires in 2015. However, the ambition to ban the book completely has caused some historians to object in the name of academic practice. And their arguments have received public support by Bavarian state education minister who urges a republication of the book in an annotated scholarly version. The transferral of copyright from Hitler to the Bavarian state is an interesting example of the way copyright as a private right can be used by the state as a means of enforcing censorship. Furthermore the censorship-copyright issue reflects the intellectual and political historical background for the inception of copyright as a means of controlling speech. And finally the discussion on Mein Kampf examines the dark sides of cultural heritage in light of EU's current cultural heritage digitization efforts in the name of access to common European cultural history.

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