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Zombies, Ninjas and the Public Domain

As someone who is passionate about and a spokesperson for the Public Domain, I am always on the lookout for new, inventive ways to use the proven content of the Public Domain. And I am constantly amazed by the creative brilliance of those who demonstrate, time and again, that the Public Domain remains the single greatest source of content for all types of product creation.

Earlier this year, Quirk Books released, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith that combines Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice with elements of modern zombie fiction. When I first read about the book, I thought, “You have to be kidding me.” But then I realized just how brilliant the idea was…taking Public Domain texts and adding in other elements or characters from the Public Domain, like zombies and ninjas. Apparently a bunch of other folks thought the idea was brilliant too…the book made it to the New York Times Bestseller list and is also being produced in movie form by actress Natalie Portman. Building on this huge win, Quirk Books has also released Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, a spin on another of Jane Austen’s novels and has other mashups in the works as well!

Now let’s dissect this mashup approach a bit. According to Wikipedia, a mashup is “a digital media file containing any or all of text, graphics, audio, video, and animation, which recombines and modifies existing digital works to create a derivative work.” This is a classic definition for WHY you want to be using Public Domain content in your business…to create new, derivative works. We know that “Pride and Prejudice” is in the Public Domain because it was published in 1813. Zombie characters are also in the Public Domain, thanks in part to the cult classic zombie film, “Night of the Living Dead,” which is also in the Public Domain. While many characters, like Spiderman or Mickey Mouse, are not in the Public Domain, many more, like zombies, pirates, ninjas and more, are in the Public Domain.

So let me ask you…can you imagine the limitless product possibilities available to you just by mashing together elements from the Public Domain? Hopefully you are beginning to understand why I am convinced that the Public Domain is THE definitive source for proven content! Go have some fun!

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