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.