The public domain consists of tens of millions of books, images, musical items, architectural items, films and more. And it is not just materials that were once copyrighted but are no longer that are in the public domain. Almost everything produced by the U. S. government is in the public domain once it is created. This includes items from 100 years ago as well as items created just minutes ago.
Within this huge cache of fascinating materials, you can literally find 10s of thousands of free public domain movies, industrial films, government training films, space program films, news clips. movie trailers and much more. While a number of these pieces have never been digitized, there are literally 10s of thousands of clips already digitized and freely downloadable.
And of this vast array of movies and films, a good percentage of them have been digitized at a high enough quality to be considered TV ready. In other words, you could download them and use them to build a DVD type product that could be enjoyed on TV.
One of our favorite sites for finding public domain films is archive.org. They have 10's of thousands of films, feature movies, news clips and more available for instant download. And you can find many more - especially government films - by heading over to Google and doing some searches. For instance if you are interested in the space program, you could enter something like NASA film downloads into Google and have many search results to explore for film clips and movies related to the various NASA programs.
Once you find all these films, what are some things you can use them for?
- Download a 50s B science fiction film and redo the soundtrack to make a campy, kitchy parody of the original film. Lets face it, these old sci-fi movies are full of things that can be turned into comical laugh riots with just a little bit of imagination. I mean most of the work is already done with the cheesy special effects and poor acting by the characters in these films.
- You could build a website on life in the 1940s. It could feature film clips about various slices of life in the United States during the 1940's which included some fascinating times what with World War II and its aftermath. Money could be made by AdSense or by selling advertising to companies that sell memorabilia.
- You could download the featured films (there are 1000s) and burn them to DVD and sell them on a classic movies website that you build. Or if you didn't want to run a mail order operation, you could set up the website to operate as a digital download site and have people either pay per film downloaded or as a monthly membership site.
- You could take the 1000s of vintage newsreels and build a site about famous moments in the 20th century. Every couple of days or week you could feature a new news clip. You could offer a free subscription so you can notify people when a new news clip is posted and you could use that ezine to advertise general interest products.
- You could take a collection of public domain films and break them down into small clips displaying discrete scenes. These clips could be gathered together in collections and sold as royalty free film clips for others to use in their productions.
- If you are a bit creative, you could gather a variety of movies and film clips on a particular subject and build your own documentary. With good scripting and voice talent and a little skill with a video editing package, you could build a documentary that would rival any that are shown on television.
These six ways are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes ways to package and re-purpose public domain movies, the sky is literally the limit. Any place you see video being used represents an opportunity to use public domain materials and generate a profit.
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