It’s exciting to think about the prospect of creating a marketable product with no investment except a little time and minimal effort. The truth is though, it usually takes far more time and far more effort to create a marketable product from material gleaned from the public domain. Articles abound online that make it sound like all you have to do is reach down and pick up a nugget of gold and wham – you’ll have a top-notch product for nothing.

Creating New Products Takes Time and Effort

The truth is it can take a while to create products from the public domain that you can make a profit from. For one thing, not all of them are digitized and if you have to go through the process of digitizing an entire book, that could take quite a bit of time, or money, if you outsource the project. If you don’t scan the work into your computer or pay someone else to do so then you’ll be left with the task of entering all the information manually and that can take a lot of time and effort. Plus, you’ll l have to read the book and choose the parts you want to leave in and the areas that you want to update or change to make it your own. Although using public domain works to create products for your Internet marketing empire can be lucrative, it can also be a lot of work.

Out of Print is not Synonymous with Public Domain

Many Internet marketers troll used bookstores to find diamonds in the rough. While this is a great way to find public domain books, be careful because some have the idea that just because a book or another work is out of print means that it is free for the taking. That simply isn’t true. In addition, copyrights can be renewed so you can’t simply look at the copyright notice in a book, count the years that have passed, and automatically deduce that it is now in the public domain. Although it can cost hundreds of dollars to have a copyright record searched, it may be worth it to do so.

Works without Copyright Notices are in the Public Domain

This is a common misconception and one that could lead to a lot of trouble and aggravation if you believe it and act upon it. In the United States, since 1989 anyway, the moment a work was created, it was copyrighted, with no need for registration at all. Though copyright registration does afford certain benefits, they are still protected by copyright even if not registered. In fact, modern works are afforded a much longer copyright than older works. For example, any work created today is protected by copyright for the length of the author’s life plus 70 years. Even then, heirs may be able to extend the copyright so it will be some time before modern works fall into the public domain unless, of course, the author donates them to the public domain.

Bottom line: Make absolutely sure that the work you are intending to use as your own is indeed, in the public domain. Don’t trust just any website that lists it as such because you will be the one responsible for copyright infringement if the website is wrong.


Internet marketers are creative creatures and like to make the most out of all marketing situations. Internet marketers that use public domain products in their Internet marketing endeavors are capitalizing on a great way to earn extra money with little or no investment.

It’s Important to Verify

Works published before 1923 are automatically in the public domain. Other works that were never copyrighted at all are also in the public domain. You can learn specific details about public domain rules and laws at the website of the US Copyright Office at While there are many, many websites that purport to have a database of public domain items, you and you only are responsible for verifying that the public domain works you choose to use are actually in the public domain.

Free to use is not Public Domain

Internet marketers who are going to use public domain works in their marketing endeavors really must take the time and effort to learn how public domain works because you could be guilty of copyright infringement if you use works that are not actually in the public domain. Some Internet marketers go so far as to pay hundreds of dollars for a copyright search, which entitles them to a certificate that states that the work is copyright free. While this can be a little on the expensive side initially, it will be well worth it in the long run. However, that is not always necessary.

Many sites, such as stock photo sites grant a limited use license, thus allowing you to use their images as long as you give proper credit to the author. Don’t confuse this practice with the public domain. When something is in the public domain, you can alter it and consequently call it your own and sell it in any form you choose. This is not the case with items that you are granted a license to use.

Ebooks, Articles, Blogs, and More!

There is no end to what you can create with items you cull from the public domain. Savvy Internet marketers create multiple products and include their links in the products they create, thus ensuring even more revenue when purchases are made from those links. Affiliate marketers troll the public domain for works they can use to promote their products. Don’t forget the offline places you can find public domain works: used bookstores, libraries, estate and garage sales, and more. You can then digitize these products and create unique products that can be found nowhere else online or offline.

Be Prepared to Work!

It takes time and effort and hard work to come up with unique products, even if you get top-notch material from the public domain. Don’t be lured in by other Internet marketers that promise you can make a bundle with little or no work at all. Although you can find plenty of public domain material on your own, you may decide to pay for a list that other Internet marketers have come up with if you don’t have the time to sort through all the public domain databases yourself. If you do decide to pay for such a list or database, make sure you are getting it from a reputable marketer.


You can certainly find worthwhile material in the public domain that you can go on to produce top-notch works yourself. Get creative and be prepared to work hard and you can indeed cash in on the public domain market!