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SyFy “Gets” the Public Domain…


I love it when people say that the Public Domain is just a bunch of old books that no one cares about. Oh reeeeally?! Well, apparently SyFy missed that memo because they totally “get” the idea of the Public Domain. Building on the hit series they produced based on the Wizard of Oz-Tin Man-SyFy now has yet another classic book from the Public Domain squarely in its crosshairs…Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice, a new mini-series that begins in December, is a modern interpretation of the 1866 classic and promises to mix things up a bit down deep in that rabbit hole. SyFy’s new spin on our favorite characters-Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and others-perfectly encapsulates my position on the power of the Public Domain: Proven Content + Creative Innovation = Successful Products.

SyFy isn’t alone in capitalizing on the Public Domain. Disney is set to release a new version of “A Christmas Carol (first released in 1843 by Charles Dickens), and we will also get to see Sherlock Holmes return to the screen in December in an interesting film adaptation. Because Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character from the Public Domain (he was first introduced in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), anyone can create new novels, comic books, video games, movies, etc. based on the world’s most well-known detective.

Now before you start with the “yeah buts,” I know I’m talking about Hollywood and they have LOTS of money. But here’s the thing…it’s the innovation behind these new releases that I’m interested in. The new stories began in someone’s mind…in their dreams…and they wrote it down. THAT didn’t cost a cent. Heck, I’ve been writing some stories that take place in the Wizard of Oz universe as well…and quite honestly, it’s been fun. The point I want to get across to you is this…and pay attention to this: The Public Domain is a wonderful and amazing playground that offers an endless supply of “stuff” to play and build with. You are ONLY limited by your imagination! Let me repeat my formula for you again: Proven Content + Creative Innovation = Successful Products.

3 Responses to “SyFy “Gets” the Public Domain…”

  • UrsulaJ:

    Diana Ross in “The Wiz” shows that some interesting variations can appear. And Alice’s Looking Glass made an appearance on SyFy’s “Warehouse 13″ recently.

    Oh, and I noticed an “Oz” gag in a recent rerun of “Stargate SG-1″… which I won’t repeat not for copyright reasons but so others can enjoy the unexpected joke.

  • UrsulaJ:

    It occurred to me that there is an example of the power of the public domain which is popular yet invisible. WiFi.

    Data has been sent by radio for decades. Ethernet’s design was based upon a technique developed for radio data in Hawaii. But in the U.S. a license was needed for every radio transmitter. Every location needed to spend a lot of money for a site survey and the license. Data was interrupted every hour by the transmission of call letters in Morse code.

    Then a piece of the radio spectrum was opened for anyone to use, at low power so conflicts would be local. Wireless speakers and TV accessories appeared. Some wireless data links appeared… but the recent popularity of Ethernet links to the Internet quickly caused several WiFi designs to appear. After a battle between several standards, a few were accepted and WiFi coverage began to spread.

    By placing a bit of the radio spectrum in the public domain, a flurry of uses for it appeared. WiFi is the most popular use of this free radio space.

  • Tony,
    I think you meant SciFi, as in the SciFi Channel.

    Thanks for the great Public Domain info.

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