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Posts Tagged ‘sherlock holmes’

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!