Wikisource:Possible copyright violations/archives/Mein Kampf

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Summary and conclusions

  1. The German language version is out of copyright in the United States, and Canada, but it may still be valid in countries of the European Economic Community.
  2. The copyrights to all three reviewed American translations continue to be owned by the Houghton-Mifflin Company, and the first of these will last until 2028-12-31. Any archival claims to that edition cannot be made until after 2008-12-31. The offending contributions are being deleted.
  3. Other web sites have published English translations, but no consideration has been given to whether the continued existence of those versions is sufficient to allow the doctrine of laches to be invoked.
  4. All four cited English translations are in the public domain in Canada, and in any other country which allows a copyright to last for fifty years beyond the death of the author, or (in the case of a corporate owned work) for fifty years after the date of publication. It would appear that a copy of these could legally be placed on a server based in Canada.

Eclecticology 21:00, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

    • German copyright held by the German State of Bavaria; it does not permit any publication of the book, as a means of keeping it off the market. The copyright will expire on 2015-12-31 as Hitler died in 1945 and the copyright is only protected for 70 years.
    • US copyright on English language versions claimed by Houghton Mifflin Co. who were publishers for two of the versions below
      • Renewal: Mein Kampf. Translators: Alvin Johnson, Helmut L. Ripperger & others. Editorial sponsors: John Chamberlain & others. Complete & unabridged, fully annotated unexpurgated. © 28Feb39; A127254. Houghton Mifflin Co. (PWH); 19Oct66; R403284.
      • Mein Kampf. Translated by Ralph Manheim. © 29Sep43; A175986. Houghton Mifflin Co. (PWH); 14Jul71; R509011.
      • My battle. Abridged & translated by E. T. S. Dugdale. © 11Oct33; A66625. Houghton Mifflin Co. (PWH); 2Jun61; R276734.
    • The British version was translated by James Murphy, who died in 1946.
    • Recommendations
      1. I presume that all three American versions had the appropriate copyright notices. This is virtually certain for the two translations that were originally published by Houghton-Mifflin. These are all still copyright. I have acquired a copy of the Johnson version through eBay and will comment further on that point after I have received it.
      2. Since Murphy died in 1946, that version will remain under copyright until the end of 2016.
      3. The Dugdale, Murphy and Manheim versions certainly should not be accepted on Wikisource; the Johnson version almost certainly.
      4. I have no evidence of any German version being published in he United States.
      5. The German version should be allowed in Wikisource on the basis that it was enemy property whose copyright was not extended when the term extensions of the European Union were extended, or as a work published between 1923 and 1928 whose copyright owner does not provide for copies to be made available at a reasonable price.
      6. Any new translations that a Wikisoureceror chooses to write and make available under GFDL would be subject to the same provisions as the original German language version.
    • Update: This question still has not arrived at a final status. I am still waiting for copies of the Johnson and Manheim translations to arrive so that I can see exactly what was stated on these published texts. - Ec Jun 10

I seem to recall Paul Halsall's archive of source texts hosting a copy of Mein Kampf. He seems to be fairly tight about copyright - if I'm right, it may be worth contacting him about it. Ambivalenthysteria 01:18, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I found his Modern History Sourcebook site, but his Centurion88 link for the English language version gives me a "Page not found" message from Earthlink. The Thulenet link for the German language edition gives me a porn site. The versions on (in Samoa) appear to violate the Samoan life + 75 copyright law. I've found a few other versions on line, but nobody appears to be donfronting the copyright issue.
I apologize for being indecisive in this, but currently I'm favouring exclusion. I now have copies of the Johnson and Manheim translation, and both show the original copyright for the translations as belonging to Houghton Mifflin. They are thus all still covered by copyright in the United States.
To-day I acquired the domain rights for, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. I don't have the technical expertise or the server capacity to do much with it here. The possibility exists for including MK on such a site. Canadian law follows the life + 50 rule, or 50 years alone for a corporate owned copyright. This means that all the versions can be legally published here. Eclecticology 03:45, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Pardon me, but isn't this still under copyright? [[PaulinSaudi 16:34, 2 May 2004 (UTC)]][reply]

That appears to be correct, but I want to avoid jumping to conclusions. At this stage I'm inclined to mark it as "Possible copyright violation" while the issue is being researched. The ownership of the copyright is not clear at all. Eclecticology 21:07, 2 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
I am no expert, but I read an article on the copyright of MK in the Washington Post many, many years ago. Both copyright holders are acting very well by rarely giving permission for publication. [[PaulinSaudi 01:39, 3 May 2004 (UTC)]][reply]
Eclecticology made some great points at Talk:Mein Kampf. Supadawg 22:45, 3 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

It appears that the text which you have provided is the Ralph Manheim translation rather than the anonymous 1939 translation. Cf. Your source does not acknowledge this. - Eclecticology 01:03, 4 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

Hmmm! Now I'm not sure anymore. - Ec.

The more I look into this copyright issue the more confusing the issue becomes. It is almost certainly covered by copyright in Germany and England which, as part of the EU, use the life +70 rule for copyright expiry. I would still be curious to find how the State of Bavaria ended with the copyright, and whether that could be challenged.

It is clearly in the public domain in Canada and other countries which use the life +50 rule for expiry. The situation is thoroughly confused in the United States. I have tentatively determined the following:

  • To the best of my knowledge no German language edition has ever been published in the United States, and certainly not within the first 30 days after Mein Kampf appeared in Germany. The book just didn't get much attention in those early days.
  • US copyright law became applicable to some foreign published works on Jan. 1, 1996. Ironically, if we are using the Berne life +50 limitation, this is the same day that the book went into the public domain. For most EU countries the term extension went into effect on July 1, 1995, but that's still more than 50 years after Hitler's death in April, 1945.
  • The extension of copyrights to foreign works did not require registration, but a failure to register would mean that the most that a claimant could recover in court would be the actual damage from lost sales. For Bavaria, which uses its copyright as a means of preventing new editions, those lost sales are zero.
  • In considering whether a foreign copyright is restored, US law includes: "Notwithstanding the fact that the work meets the above requirements, any work ever owned or administered by the Alien Property Custodian and in which the restored copyright would be owned by a government or instrumentality thereof, is not a restored work." I have not researched whether there was a specific application to Hitler, but it could be a consideration if matters ever got that far.
  • When the United States extended the copyright period from 75 to 95 years, it provided a library and non-profit archive exemption for putting works on line after 75 years, as long as the owner was not making the work commercially available, or copies were not available at a reasonable price. (I presume this means new copies, but the law doesn't say.) At this time this only applies to works published in the years 1923 to 1928, and Mein Kampf fits right in there. Does Wikisource qualify as such an archive? The refusal of the Bavarian government to make it commercially available would have a bearing here too.
  • Translations are subject to additional copyright provisions, and each of the various translations must be considered separately.
  • The British translations depend on the status of the translators. I Have not determined when James Murphy, who made the official translation died.
  • The American translations had to be renewed. Houghton-Mifflin is a big publishing company, and I am presuming (i.e. I have not checked this fact.) that it and Ralph Manheim would have taken steps to protect its rights.
  • This leaves us with the presumably anonymous 1939 version from an apparently defunct publisher, translated in a piracy of Hitler's copyrights which the Alien Property Custodian was entrusted to protect, and which may not have been renewed in 1967 when it should. Assuming that these facts can all be checked, the prospects of someone starting a court case over this when no money is involved are remote.

I think that we should go ahead and keep this as long as we can clearly establish that

  1. This translation is indeed independant and anonymous, and
  2. The copyright was not renewed after 28 years.

Eclecticology 18:42, 3 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. I believe Hitler himself granted the copyright to Bavaria somehow, a little after he dictated it. Bavaria has only successfully suppressed the document in three European countries, and this is not the official British translation it approved. I got it from [1]. I would like to know the name of the American firm PaulinSaudi says was granted rights to the text, so we can do further investigation, although it may not be necessary if we follow Eclecticology's points. Supadawg 22:51, 3 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]
Not that it matters, but Bavaria got all of AH's personal property. During his life sales of MK were a major source of his personal wealth. You would have thought his sister, Paula would have gotten it. But as I said, I am no expert. [[PaulinSaudi 02:14, 4 May 2004 (UTC)]][reply]

Under German law the copyrights on Hitler's writings go into the public domain on January 1 of the year following the 70th anniversary of his death, i. e. on January 1, 2016. This assumes that someone exists to own the copyright.

The original publication was in 1925. Published by F. Eher, München

The translations

  • 1933: Hurst & Blackett, London; translator anonymous, as My Struggle, the "official" translation. The 1935 Paternoster Library version was a cheap edition of this.
  • 1933: Houghton-Mifflin, Boston; abridged and translated by E. T. S. Dugdale as My Battle
  • 1939: Noram Publishing Co., Geenwich, CT; translator not specified
  • 1939: Reynal & Hitchcock, New York; Alvin Saunders Johnson & John Chamberlain editors. They directed the translation as part of the New School for Social Research.
  • 1939: Stackpole Books, New York (or Harrisburg, PA); translator?; claims to be 1st unexpurgated American edition; possibly an American edition of the Murphy translation.
  • 1940: Hutchinson, London; translator not noted; issued as an 18 part series.
  • 1942: Publ.?, London; translated by James Murphy, as My Struggle; this appears to be based on the Hurst & Blackett edition
    • James Vincent Murphy, 1880-1946
  • 1943: Houghton-Mifflin, Boston; translated by Ralph Manheim
  • n.d.: Enigma Books, New York; Gerhard Weinberg, editor; Krista Smith translator; claims to be 1st English language edition of volume 2.

I copied the text from [], a site that claims to have unbiased historical texts. I could find no copyright notice on the site, and everywhere I looked, it only said that the book had been published in 1925. While this is not a guarantee that Main Kampf is copyright-free, I believe it is reasonable that it should be posted here. The GNU library of licenses has never been challenged in court, so we can never be sure until someone objects. However, I believe that at least in the United States, a copyright will become void after 70 years unless renewed.

The Wikipedia say the copyright is held by the German state of Bavaria until 2015. I happen to know the US copyright was sold by AH to an American firm, who still hold and tightly controls it. Methinks this is a copyright violation and think it needs to be removed. [[PaulinSaudi 16:56, 2 May 2004 (UTC)]][reply]

What is the name of this American firm? It's best to check with them before rashly deleting it. Supadawg 18:49, 2 May 2004 (UTC)[reply]

You know I hate to delete it, the contributor went to a lot of work witht he formatting. Still, let me see if I can find who owns the US copyright. (That can't be right, can it? If we publish it on the Source it is worldwide.) Anyway, let me look.

[[PaulinSaudi 15:59, 3 May 2004 (UTC)]][reply]

"Mein Kampf" is copyright protected by the German state of Bavaria. So all translations are copyright protected too. 15:09, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This is a matter of some dispute. When a Swedish court considered this it concluded that although the German original was still under copyright the State of Bavaria was not the rightful owner, but it couldn't say who was. I already looked extensively into this. See Wikisource:Copyvio archives/Mein Kampf. Admittedly, I only looked at German and English versions, and I have no information on the French translator's rights. The original German copyright is not valid in the United States. Because of an enemy property provision the copyright period was not extended for Hitler in the same way that it was for most other German authors. If a take-down order is issued it would need to be seriously considered, but one of the conditions for such an order is that the person issuing it have a right to do so. Eclecticology 14:58, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think it's pretty simple: Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. (GNU-FDL) The copyright of "Mein Kampf" is definitely hold by Bavaria, as far as Germany is concerned. A French translation makes no difference as far as I know. So "Mein Kampf" and "Mon combat" can't be put under the licence of GNU-FDL and so it has to be deleted.
There is a similiar problem with Wikipedia: The English Wikipedia can't be mirrored or published in Germany, because they use "fair use". So they use material that is copyright protected in Germany (and some other countries I think) and copying the English Wikipedia to a German server could be punished. So the German Wikipedia doesn't use "fair use", to ensure that it's content really is in the GNU-FDL and not only pretends to be. 21:17, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
My position for this one does not depend on fair use. The GNU-FDL would not matter if the work is already in the public domain, which would be the case for the German version under American law. I am still prepared to delete the material if the question of the French translator remains unresolved. Eclecticology 16:21, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
What I wrote about "fair use" only was an example to show the problem in general: In an international project one has to consider the different laws of the countries. If there were a law in Azerbaidschan or wherever, that says that all publications are public domain 5 years after they have been published, then you can't put these works under GNU-FDL, because it is copyrighted in all other countries. The same with "Mein Kampf": It is copyright protected, so you can't allow everybody to use and copy it freely, because you don't have the copyright. If the French translation were free (PD or GNU-FDL) you would have the right to re-translate it into German and then publish it in Germany. But you definitely are not allowed to do anything like that. 21:09, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)(+2=MESZ)
The Mon combat text appears destined for deletion, though I support that for different reasons than those you propose. A key line in the FDL license is, "You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law." In particular, "requiring permission" is notable. If a text is in the public domain permission is not required. The FDL makes no specific mention of "public domain"; FDL grew out of software construction, none of which is old enough to go into the public domain by virtue of expiry with age. Only a handful of countries have copyright terms that are less than the Berne Convention standard of life plus 50, and most of these are not centers of literary production. Those shorter periods would still apply to citizens of those countries, including for their works published in countries which normally have longer terms. FDL does nothing to reconcile the situation where a work is PD in one country but not in another. Eclecticology 01:40, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)

HITLER, Adolf, Mein Kampf (trad. J. Gaudefoy-Demombynes & A. Calmettes), Paris, Nouvelles éditions latines, 1934.

Jean Gaudefroy-Demombynes est né en 1898, et continuait de publier au moins jusqu'en 1957 et peut-être jusqu'en 1971. J'ignore encore la date de sa mort. Il semble donc que ses droits d'auteur continuent d'être effectifs, et que ce texte ne soit pas dans le domaine public. Donc ce texte doit être enlevé. Eclecticology 22:23, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Mein Kampf * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *