Author Yanik Silver describes an exciting way to create content for your information product that I had not thought much about until reading his book, Moonlighting on the Internet: 5 World-Class Experts Reveal Proven Ways to Make Extra Cash. He recommends cashing in on information in the Public Domain, that is, information that is free to use in any form without anyone forbidding it with a copyright.
(Check with a lawyer to confirm the copyright status of any product you decide to use – especially if you plan to make money from it. Copyright law varies in each country, so verify your laws if you live outside the United States).
He describes how he created products he sells for thousands of dollars per month from information in the public domain. Where did he find this information and how was he sure what he used was not copyrighted? To answer that question we have to understand current U.S. Copyright law. Here is what is available without copoyright:
- Facts, figures, ideas, titles, etc. – Works granted or donated to the public domain. Some copyright holders explicitly donate their work to the public domain. Yanik cites the example of P.T. Barnum’s autobiography that the author donated to the public domain when he wrote it.
- Work of the U.S. government or agents. Nearly all Federal works are in the public domain and some state publications are also. There is a lot of useful information out there that can be used, for example:
- Formerly copyrighted works that have fallen into public domain for a variety of reasons. There is a lot of additional information about this at Cornell’s Copyright Center.
Once a work is in the public domain, you can use it any way you want. Here are some ways:
- Re-title the work
- Cut/paste parts of it
- Use one chapter and insert it into your information product
- use the ideas and reword it
If you make significant modifications to it, you can also re-copyright it. How’s that for a great idea for creating your own information product to earn money?