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Thanks to U.S. copyright laws, nothing has entered the public domain in nearly 40 years.

This year's new free public works include Anne Frank's diary, 'The Sound of Music,' and much, much more — unless you live in America.

Every year on Jan. 1, hundreds of copyrights enter the public domain like a New Year's gift to the world, making them free to use for absolutely any reason.

Let's back up a second. Copyrights cover the span of intellectual and creative properties — everything from movies, books, and songs to software, industrial designs, and scientific concepts.

But these protections don't last forever.


It's all about finding the balance between the rights of the creator and the benefits to the public interest. After all, where would we be if things like "Grimms' Fairy Tales" or the Bible or, ya know, computer programming languages were kept on a tight leash by a single company to distribute and profit from as they saw fit?

GIF from the (criminally underrated) film "The Brothers Grimm."

The specifics vary from country to country, but most copyrights expire 50 to 70 years after death or publication.

In countries like Canada, New Zealand, and the majority of Africa and Asia, this means anything made by anyone who died in 1965 is fair game. Books, movies, and music published that same year are also in the public domain.

This includes works from "The Waste Land" poet T.S. Eliot, "A Raisin in the Sun" author Lorraine Hansberry, the endlessly-quotable British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and minister and human rights activist Malcolm X, as well as movies like "The Sound of Music" and "Thunderball."

GIF from "Thunderball." Also if we're being technical, Ian Fleming died in 1964, so the entire concept of "James Bond" is already public domain in these countries. They can remix and reuse him the same way people do Shakespeare.

And people in the European Union, Russia, or Brazil can now freely enjoy anything published in or created by someone who died in 1945.

Pretty cool that everyone in the EU is free to do what they please with the works of blues singer Blind Willie Johnson and former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (so much mash-up potential!). There were also those few neat books like "Animal Farm" and "Pippi Longstocking" plus plays like "The Glass Menagerie" and "Carousel." (Those last two alone would save so much money for high school theater programs.)

GIF from the movie version of "Pippi Longstocking," which itself is still protected by copyright law in these countries, but at least that wouldn't stop you from making your own Pippi Longstocking movie or adapting the original stories into a new hip-hop concept album, or an interactive smartphone video game. The possibilities are endless!

But in America? Not so much. And it's been that way for 40 years.

Oh. Yeah. About that.

Back in 1976, Congress made some changes to U.S. copyright laws, retroactively extending the terms for recent expirations. Then in 1998, they went and did it again when the copyright for the debut animation of a certain mouse-eared corporate mascot was about to become public property.

The result? No copyrights have entered the public domain in the United States since 1978, and no open source intellectual properties will become available until 2019, when we'll finally have access to things from 1923. Yay?

GIF from "Steamboat Willie." Racist undertones aside, can you imagine what percentage of their revenue they would lose without being able to claim the singular ownership of Mickey Mouse? It would be at least like 0.02% of Disney's annual profits!

The U.S. is the only country that lets corporations protect copyrights like this. But Disney is not the only guilty party.

After a whole lot of legal back-and-forth, Sherlock Holmes only entered the public domain in the U.S. in June 2014; of course, none of this was an issue when there were two separate but equally popular Sherlock Holmes media properties.

And it wasn't until this past fall that the "Happy Birthday" song finally took its rightful place in the public domain, after Warner Music had claimed the rights to the song for years in order to keep charging for its use.

This is also why your waiters at TGI Fridays have to sing a different birthday song when you lie and tell them it's someone's birthday for the enjoyment of public embarrassment and the free ice cream sundae. You do that, too, right?

Meanwhile, Anne Frank's father was recently named as the co-author of "The Diary of a Young Girl" in order to extend the book's copyright by another 35 years — the twofold irony being that this claim kind of undermines the whole point of the book, and Hitler's copyright also ended this year and his works are now in the public domain.

That's right: the Anne Frank Foundation wants to keep the profits from her diary all to themselves, but "Mein Kampf" is freely available for anyone to produce, remix, or distribute.

Let that sink in for a moment.

However, copyright remix laws help ensure that things like this can exist.

These public domain works are more than just free, fun giveaways. They're the foundation of our culture.

The public domain is how we pass things down through generations — how ideas spread, proliferate, and grow into new and better things.

That being said, there are plenty of valid reasons for the existence of (limited) copyright laws. But there's also evidence that public domain properties are better for society, both culturally and economically.

This is what allows us to share knowledge on Wikipedia or retell and re-examine famous stories like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." If we weren't able to take, adapt, and redistribute concepts and culture, we'd never have "Star Wars," or smartphone apps from independent developers, or this hilarious video of Vanilla Ice trying to justify his sampling of Queen's "Under Pressure."

When Ice told us to, "Stop! Collaborate and listen!" he was clearly referring to the the importance of public domain properties in perpetuating human culture; unfortunately, Queen is not in the public domain (yet). GIF via Kasper Hartwich/YouTube.

At the end of the day, everything is a remix.

And that's exactly what makes our culture so great — and why it's so important for America to follow the rest of the world's lead.

If you want to join the good fight for a more open culture, you can check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the American Library Association.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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