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Archive for the ‘public domain’ Category

Science of Getting Rich

I couldn’t resist creating another brief video JUST to hopefully get your creative juices flowing. THIS video features an excerpt from Chapter 1 of “The Science of Getting Rich,” an amazing book in the Public Domain.

Little-Known Public Domain Secrets

It’s no surprise that there are a number of marketing folks who talk about Public Domain content. I don’t have the exclusive on the topic…expert or not. Of course, most give their primary focus to books…and rightly so…but books are just one branch in a massive tree of content possibilities. Other “branches” include images, magazines, patents, movies, audios…the list goes on and on. But in today’s post, I’m going to lead you to another branch that very few marketers, if any, are talking about with regard to the Public Domain. I’ve hinted at a few of the “leaves” of this branch in the past…today I’m going to focus your attention on a few more.

Our discussion for this post and posts to come draws from a curious paragraph found in Copyright Circular 40 on Works of the Visual Arts. It’s no secret that I LOVE the visual arts in all its forms, but today we’ll look at them with a spin…NOT considering content that was once copyrighted but is now in the Public Domain, but rather, content that was NEVER copyrighted (and never will be). It’s content you use everyday and likely never considered it for product creation. And that’s the exact reason why I’m mentioning it now.

The paragraph I referenced earlier from Circular 40 reads as follows:

Copyright protection for an original work of authorship does not extend to the following:

  • Ideas, concepts, discoveries, principles
  • Formulas, processes, systems, methods, procedures
  • Words or short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans
  • Familiar symbols or designs
  • Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring

Now I am not planning to focus on all these “non-copyrightable” options in this post…I just want to spurn you to think about just ONE bit of content differently today. We’ll get to others in future posts. As a matter of fact, I’ve already written a post previously about IDEAS which you really should read HERE.Today, however, I want to take a look at the last option: Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring.

One of the reasons I wanted to look at this type of Public Domain content is because it’s the exact type of content that I discussed briefly in my previous article on Aeropostale. Defining this content is rather easy because you are “using” it right now…letters, numbers, ornaments and colors! Now, about now, you might be thinking, “Okay Tony…book content I can see for products, even images and magazines…but letters? Like A or T or Z?

Yeah! Letters! Letters and symbols are the basis for all our written (and in some cases visual) communication. They represent specific concepts to us regardless of our language or worldview. And so, while the letters, “Z”, “P”, “A” and “I” may seem to offer no possible relevance to us for product creation, the word, “PIZZA” instantly conjures memories of images, tastes, smells and experiences…at least it does for me. More than that though, you and I have the legal right to use that word, pizza, or the letters that make it up, to create ANY type of product we choose…as evidenced by the yellow-stripped shirt I’m wearing right now with “A87″ embroidered on the pocket (yes, I bought it at Aeropostale)! To you and me, “A87″ means very little if anything, but to Aeropostale, it means a multi-million dollar business and brand!

Here is another question to consider…what does “STOP” mean to you? And in how many ways have you seen those letters in that configuration used in products of all types? What about the color “red” as it’s used with a stop sign? The color “red” carries meaning to it…think about it…you don’t see “green” stop signs! Why? It sends the wrong message…and that message is conveyed with a color and four letters.

Let me offer one more example (I could provide thousands) in the form of another question…when you see the numbers 0, 1 and 9, they don’t mean too much right? But what about 9/11/01? Every American knows what THAT number combination stands for…and those numbers in that combination has generated tens of millions of dollars! How about this set of numbers: 12-25? Merry Christmas! I hope you are beginning to get my drift.

You know what this means, right? :-) A very common symbol online…a smiley face…that has been worth millions in one form or another!

It’s likely that you have not consciously considered what possible products could be created with the combination of letters, numbers, symbols and colors. My hope is that this post will challenge you to consider new possibilities in your quest for best-selling products. Think outside the box and brainstorm how a letter or two might be able to transform your business!

Native Americans in the Public Domain

One of my favorite local powwows happens today, the Lawilowan American Indian Festival, and I’m excited to see friends, vendors and dancers whom I haven’t seen in a while. Of course, I’m also excited to see my girls dance again. So in honor of the powwow, I thought I’d share some great sources for “Native American” related content from the Public Domain. There is some great content out there…hope you enjoy!

The first place we’ll begin is at Google Books…the growing source for all kinds of fun things in the Public Domain. The BEST way to find Native American-related resources on Google Books is by using focused keywords…for example, not “Native American” but “Cherokee” or “Dakota tribal.”

Another favorite source for Native American-related images is the Beineke Rare Books & Manuscripts Digital Library at Yale. Here you can find a LOT of great images…many in high resolution…including photographs, fine art and illustrations.

The Internet Sacred Text Archive is a terrific source for information on tribal stories, religious ceremonies and much more. This is definitely on of my favorite sites!

Of course, this post would be incomplete without mentioning Edward Curtis resources at the Library of Congress. You can view those resources HERE and HERE.

To wrap up this post, I’d like to share a quick video of my girls dancing at this powwow three years ago. Enjoy!


Shapeshifting Public Domain Content

Stories of shapeshifting exist in every culture and take on many forms of transformation…from Zeus in Greek Mythology to the recent Twilight series where members of the Quileute tribe shapeshift into wolves. Even in our childhood stories we see the Beast transform into a Prince in “Beauty and the Beast”…and let’s not forget the infamous Frog looking for that special kiss. But what do these “myths” of shapeshifting have to do with Public Domain content? Plenty!

Content from the Public Domain…whether it exists in the form of a book, a magazine, a photograph or something else…was already established, proven if you will, in that form. The books were already published and read by thousands or tens of thousands of people…the same with magazines. But because that book or magazine is now in the Public Domain, we can legally use its content for anything we choose without any type of royalty or legal recourse. And there are a LOT of ways that we can adapt, or shapeshift, that content.

As an example, take a look at the text found HERE. It’s an article I scanned from a 1950’s Popular Photography magazine in the Public Domain. It’s a great article, and certainly relevant still today. Now, in its original form, it was a magazine article.  How can we shapeshift that content into new forms? Here are some thoughts…

  1. A Blog Post
  2. An Article on Article Sites
  3. Break-up for an Autoresponder Series
  4. A Free Report
  5. Record an Audio Version for a Podcast
  6. Turn into a Powerpoint Slide Video
  7. Read Live on a Video Camera
  8. Discuss on BlogTalkRadio
  9. Include in an E-Zine
  10. Use as a Chapter of an E-Book or Print book
  11. Create a Squidoo Lens from It
  12. Re-Publish in a New Print Magazine

And so, as you can see from the dozen samples above, it’s pretty easy to shapeshift just about ANY text content from the Public Domain into a new form…whether free or as a money-making product. The same is true for images. Take the image of Sitting Bull shown below, for instance. On the left is the original image from the Public Domain. On the right is a new image I created in Photoshop from the original.

Now, with this new image (or even with the old one quite honestly), I could shapeshift it into…

  1. A T-Shirt Design
  2. A Poster
  3. A Skateboard Design
  4. A Blanket or Tapestry
  5. A Mousepad
  6. A Coffee Mug
  7. Any of the Other Products on CafePress or Zazzle
  8. A Postage Stamp Design
  9. An Illustration for an Article
  10. A Fine Art Canvas Framed Print

I think you get the picture (no pun intended). And the best part is that I can create nearly endless variations of new art based on that one original photograph from the Public Domain. Shapeshifting at its best!

So, hopefully, this post has inspired you to consider doing a little shapeshifting of your own. The possibilities are are waiting for your own innovation and creativity. And like it says in my blog header graphic:

Proven Content + Creative Innovation = Successful, NEW Products!

Learn MORE about how to “shapeshift” Public Domain Content HERE:

Public Domain Explained

Easy Money Picture Project

Late Night…in the Public Domain

The Jimmie Kimmel show created a rather inventive documentary in the style of Ken Burns (National Parks: America’s Best Idea) recounting the drama between NBC, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. The documentary is a perfect example of how you can use Public Domain content to create innovative projects (and products). Enjoy!


PDX-TV Episode 2: Videos from Public Domain Content

In this episode, I share a cool strategy for using niche content from Public Domain magazines to create live action videos.


PDX-TV Episode 1: New Video Series

Here is the first video of a new series I’ll be producing in 2010 on using Public Domain content to build your online (and offline) business. Hope you enjoy it! It also features my sexy new PDX opening!


Crazy About Puzzles

I like puzzles…always have. Not the jigsaw puzzles where you have a bunch of tiny pieces that, once assembled, reveal an image of some sort. No…I like wire puzzles and cast puzzles…3D puzzles, usually made from metal that challenge you to figure out how to take them apart, and then put them back together again…kind of like Humpty Dumpty, except without the mess. There is something about working with those puzzles that just make me happy…they help me think spatially, boost my creativity and challenge me to think outside the box. Finding puzzles that really challenge me, however, seems to be more of a challenge than the puzzles themselves. Most level 6 puzzles (the most difficult) usually take me less than 15 minutes to disassemble and re-assemble again. Here are a few of the cast puzzles I played with over the Holidays (these are from Hanayama).


After solving the puzzles above, I was reading the accompanying literature when the following sentence caught my attention:

“At the end of the 19th century, Britain experienced a huge puzzle craze. I managed to pick up a number of the puzzles famous during that period in flea markets, despite their rarity.”

Now, I don’t know what that sentence says to your brain, but to mine it said, “Public Domain” loud and clear! And so I was off and running to research old puzzles. Seeing how they were crafted metal objects, my first thought was to look for patents. After all, designs of physical objects would be covered by patent rather than copyright. While it took me a while to find what I was looking for (you would think “puzzle” would be a good keyword to start with…it wasn’t), I did eventually begin to uncover the goodies. A few examples are included below.

enigma_PUZZLE_DEVICE-1One of the cool advantages, of course, to finding these puzzle patents is that they describe how to solve the puzzle! Not that I would cheat…takes all the fun out of solving them…but good to know, nonetheless. Also, because most patents before 1995 are now in the Public Domain (the average patent term is 14 years and cannot be renewed as-is), you can use the information in them to create your own versions of the puzzles, if you chose to do so. That’s why you see so many variants of the Rubik’s Cube now…the original patent has expired, providing the opportunity for others to create something similar or better! Gotta love free enterprise!

Wire_puzzle-2Essentially, that’s what Hanayama did after finding the old British puzzles…he recreated them with a touch of his own creativity to re-introduce the puzzles to a new generation of puzzle lovers. And, after all…isn’t THAT what the Public Domain is all about?! You BET!

At Sea With the Public Domain

I recently took my first cruise…8 days in the Caribbean aboard the Carnival Miracle. I was a VIP as a part of my good friend, Jim Edwards’, JimBoat Cruise. We had a blast! While this was meant to be part vacation and part workshop (I taught on the Public Domain as a content source for membership sites), I really wasn’t planning to give much thought to the Public Domain, other than for my presentation. Fate had other plans. What I would soon discover once I stepped onto the Carnival Miracle was that the entire design of the ship’s interior was based on or made use of design elements and characters from the Public Domain. I later discovered that the man responsible for this clever use of the Public Domain was Joe Farcus, ship architect and creator of Carnival Miracle’s interior design.


Mr. Farcus, who is obviously a huge fan of history and all forms of entertainment, hit upon one of the perfect solutions offered by using Public Domain-based content…zero royalties combined with the draw of nostalgia…an interior designer’s dream! Inspired by characters from novels, songs, poems, myths, movies, plays, and much more, Mr. Farcus designed Carnival Miracle’s many public rooms and spaces so that the ship reveals herself like a novel, with surprising plot twists and small details that add up to a masterpiece. This “novel” look includes some of my favorite uses of the Public Domain on-ship: 18 original paintings of legendary fictional characters, including the Phantom of the Opera, Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe and Captain Ahab, which were created by Italian artist Augusto Vignali.


As you can imagine, I spent most of my time on-ship with a smile on my face, marveling at the images and characters that surrounded us…from Alice and the White Rabbit in the Mad Hatter’s Lounge to massive murals of Mary Cassatt paintings in one of the open areas. I was in my glory. Even my favorite character, Sherlock Holmes, was present and accounted for.

I think what excited me the most about this grand discovery was that Carnival’s draw from the Public Domain once again emphasized my point that ANYTHING is possible with Public Domain content. It’s proven, its supply is nearly limitless, and covers nearly any genre and media type. So as we head into the new year of 2010, you can count on my ongoing challenge to your creative juices…to encourage you into seriously incorporating the proven content of the Public Domain into your business. And I am convinced that even more compelling uses of the Public Domain will emerge in this New Year…perhaps even by you!

Jesus, Santa and Sherlock…Oh My!

You might have already figured this out about me, but in case you haven’t yet…here is a big revelation…I’m weird in a good, but sometimes obsessive kind of way…grin. It’s Christmas Day and I’m sitting in the Living Room relaxing waiting for Susan’s children to arrive. Susan is in the kitchen making a yummy squash and cranberry pie, music is playing in the background, life is good. I was sitting here thinking about the great time we had last night with my family and girls and, BAM, this statement pops into my head, “Jesus is in the Public Domain!” That’s all I needed to hear…my curious mind hit the ground running.

“That’s right…he is…Jesus IS in the Public Domain…funny…never thought about it before.” I guess it’s a good thing too…without the Public Domain, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same. You figure, Jesus, Mary and all the Bible crew are in the Public Domain…if they weren’t you would have to pay royalties to someone to use them in your stories, decorations and more…whew…good thing no one figured out how to capitalize on that one. But actually, I guess they did because any of us, or ALL of us, have the right to create products using Jesus as the central theme…solely because he is indeed in the Public Domain.

And let’s not forget Santa Claus…good ‘ole St. Nick! He’s in the Public Domain too! So is Jack Frost, snowmen and toy soldiers! So I guess you could say that the Public Domain is responsible for the commercialization of Christmas…thank God! (who is also in the Public Domain, BTW).

So why am I writing about this…on Christmas of all days? To make a point. The Public Domain is FULL of characters you can use to create all types of products and derivative works, and certain segments of corporate America (and other countries) “get it”…do you? Today marks the release of a new movie I really want to see…” Sherlock Holmes.” His character is in the Public Domain so Hollywood (or anyone else) can do whatever they want with him.

As a matter of fact, speaking of Hollywood, there are a number of new movies coming out (or already out) using characters from the Public Domain…A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland…even New Moon (vampires and werewolfs are in the Public Domain). Even the cruise I recently took demonstrated the reach of the Public Domain…the entire ship (Carnival Miracle) was decorated with Public Domain characters and images (watch for a separate post on that).

As I sat thinking about popular characters that are in the Public Domain, I began a list and soon realized that there were a LOT of characters out there. Here are a few of the gang I wrote down:

  • Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the whole Bible full of characters…and let’s not forget Buddha…he’s in the Public Domain too!
  • Scary Creatures and monsters like vampires, werewolfs, zombies, dragons, mummies and witches (and more).
  • Mythological characters like Zeus, Pegasus, Medusa and Hercules.
  • And then there are aliens (little green men and grays), robots, pirates and genies.
  • Oh and let’s not forget many of the nursery rhyme characters, characters from oral traditions (like White Buffalo Woman from the Lakota).
  • And the list goes on and on. It’s likely you are thinking of tons more characters even now.

These Public Domain characters originate from a wide variety of sources…I’ve already alluded to some of them…religious writings, oral traditions, books and stories, movies and radio shows, comic books, paintings and illustrations, patents and more. And of course, when it comes to creating derivative works using characters…well…the sky is the limit, from movies and books to t-shirt designs and toys…and any and all variations thereof!

So when you are brainstorming your next products…think about characters from the Public Domain. How can you use THEM to help build your business? They are a goldmine just waiting for you to grab your share of the booty. I guess the bigger question is, will you?

Happy Holidays!