There are millions of software applications, and thousands of new programs are released every day. Many of these software programs will never be successful for one simple reason. They lack originality. Now, what is original to a modern computer software user is not necessarily the same as what is historically original.
In fact, many of the best software ideas that mankind has come up with occurred decades if not centuries ago. Take for example chess. Chess is a public domain game that has resurfaced in countless software renditions, two of the most popular are the ChessMaster series and the online Yahoo Chess java game.
Taking ideas from the public domain is fair game. The older the idea, the greater likelihood it belongs within the public domain, although every day more work is released into the public domain at birth. Finding ideas for software in the public domain can be a very easy task. Two excellent sources for public domain software ideas come from classic literature and classic games.
What is the public domain software?
Simply put, the public domain is the area of knowledge and content that is no longer protected by copyright. It is a free-for-all chock full of ideas which can be used to create the next big hit in software, and because digital software is more than a derivative, software programs based on content found in the public domain automatically gain some level of copyright protection.
Some of the best sites to look for public domain information by category include the website archive.org, a listing of public domain classic video and library of congress works. Also, another good public domain site is gutenberg.org, which is a reissuing of classic and almost 100% public domain literary works.
Another site that is good for finding public domain content in software form is Simtel. Unfortunately, one of the worst resources for finding public domain ideas and software is Google due to search engine optimization tactics. Using the sites above, it quickly becomes viable to construct a novel and new software product from an ancestral public domain item.
Disney has used the public domain in many of its most popular films including Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, Robin Hood and Aladdin. While copying the work of Disney would surely land you in a lawsuit, referring a little bit backwards in time to the original public domain source could allow for a free ticket to a quality software project.
The project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has tens if not hundreds of thousands of public domain literary works from which to draw inspiration for a wide assortment of game software, business application software, and other miscellaneous software projects. Simtel allows for a quick search by license type. If you’re looking for quick code, you can search using the term public domain as the site contains the listings of several hundred thousand programs with additional category types that identify public domain content. Software from the public domain when added to becomes copyrighted again.
Even a simple foreword to a book allows publishers to re-copyright classic literature, and as a software developer, you can reap the benefits by re-digitizing content in a proprietary format, even if only using your own unique e book compiler software.
Furthermore, archive.org’s video clip selection of public domain material is unrivaled. Even though many publishers re-release classic video footage and charge substantial amounts of money for the licensing of their software, it’s important to know you may only be licensing public domain content plus a video navigation screen.
When it comes to software development, the public domain is a treasury of resources for any software firm which cannot be overlooked by anyone willing to invest the time necessary for researching copyright laws. In general, it’s amazingly easy to take free material and re-copyright it with only a modest addition or change to the original documentation, and as a result, using the public domain is a valuable resource in the production of any new software during our modern era, while exposing users to items of historical value and merit.