The Diary of Anne Frank has been removed from Wikisource after the site became aware it had fallen foul of copyright law.
The book repository briefly hosted a digital copy of Het Achterhuis, the first version of the diary compiled by Anne Frank’s father Otto, which was published in 1947.
The book had been put online in the belief that the copyright expired in January 2016, 70 years after Anne Frank’s death.
However, under US law the book is protected until 2042.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia as well as Wikisource, said its action was “an unfortunate example of the overreach of the US’ current copyright law”.
“In general, the US copyright for works published before 1978 is 95 years from date of publication,” it said.
“Foreign works of countries that are treaty partners to the United States are covered as if they were US works.”
The removal of the book has highlighted confusion over the copyright status of Anne Frank’s famous diary, because so many different editions exist and legislation varies around the world.
Under European law, books typically leave copyright 70 years after the author’s death and can then be reproduced freely.
Anne Frank died in 1945, which suggests that her elements of the original Dutch language version of the diary is now copyright free.
However, since the book was compiled and edited by Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank, who omitted much of the content in her original manuscripts, some people argue that he created a new version of the text which should be protected by its own copyright.
Otto Frank died in 1980, which would mean the copyright of the 1947 edition does not expire in many countries until 2050.