Product Creation: Finding Your Content

This may very well be the most important part of this series of tutorials. Today, we're on the hunt for content.

No content = No product.

Sourcing Content

The quickest and cheapest way to source content is to go into the public domain.

So, what can you find in the public domain?

The answer to that is just about anything!

You'll find texts, audio, images, stock video, software and everything under the sun. A large portion of this material is "Fair Use", but be forewarned that not all of it is free of copyright protection. At Creative Commons (one of the major public domain archives), for example, there are new works being entered under a public license, so there will be some restrictions on those works.

Let's Talk About 'Fair Use'

The Fair Use Doctrine was not a part of the original copyright law, but was drafted through numerous court decisions and finally codified in Section 107 of the copyright law. This establishes the rights of others to work with copyrighted material. It's important to be aware of this because you need to understand the rights granted to you by the public domain and the limitations you might encounter if the copyright status of a work you find is in question.

Not all of the works entered into the public domain database are free and clear of restrictions.

Here are 'four factors to be considered in determining whether the use of a work is fair, according to the law:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes.

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work

  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

These guidelines will assist you if any work you encounter during your search happens to have some restrictions on it - or if you find that you need additional content and can't find anything in the public domain to fill in the gaps.

It's best to just bypass anything that isn't fully public domain, but I've included this here in case you encounter a unique case during your search.

Now, for the definition of public domain - you'll find that many sites refer to materials as "primarily public domain". This is legal maneuvering which is intended to give a nod to the possible restrictions we mentioned before. A true public domain work is information open to the public for free use, including copying, distributing and modification free of charge.

When Do Works Pass Into The Public Domain?

Currently, works published seventy-five years ago are considered to be public domain. Works published from 1924-1963 may be public domain if the copyright was not renewed. Anything else should be considered protected under the law. For more information visit the U.S. Copyright Office web site at:

Copyright law in the UK and Europe is handled differently than in the US. Here's an explanation of how it works :

Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (including a photograph) lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. The duration of copyright in a film is 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film. Sound recordings are generally protected for 50 years from the year of publication. Broadcasts are protected for 50 years and published editions are protected for 25 years.

Complicated? Just a bit! For more information on the subject visit the British Intellectual Property Office web site at :

What Can You Do With Public Domain Material?


You can claim entire texts, reformat them and publish them as e-books. You can use public domain texts as bonuses. You can build web sites and products around them. For a perfect example of this, take a look at Rebecca Fine's site here:

Rebecca's entire site is based upon the public domain work by Wallace Wattles called "The Science of Getting Rich". It has spawned an absolute plethora of copycat marketers who went out and found additional public domain works related to the subject of prosperity and new age manifestation techniques.

I recommend hitting the major archives during your first search. Here's is a short list of them - it may be a good idea to add them to your favorites and perhaps list them at the back of your notebook :

There is a lot to wade through at these sites and you'll be wise to familiarize yourself with the navigation, search functions and general availability of subjects.

If you can't find exactly what you're looking for at these sites, then you can use a Google search to ferret out more resources. Type in whatever you're looking for and tack a +"public domain" onto the search.

Meanwhile , here are some additional, niche-related sites with public domain material:

If all else fails, you may just have to clamp down and produce some content on your own. If you can’t write well, you might consider creating a product based on something you can do well.

Perhaps you’ve got an artistic bent? Maybe you’re really good at speaking and giving presentations, but not the written word?

You can still create hot niche products using your talents.

You’ll just need to package them in a different format. Instead of creating an e-book, you could create videos, audio presentations, image files and clip art, web site templates or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Each of these product formats can be delivered to your customer via download, so there’s no need to worry about getting cut out of the loop just because you don’t offer written content.

In fact, multimedia content represents the most effective way to deliver information in quite a few niche areas especially via video and audio formats.

Next: How to fashion your content into an attractive package.

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