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How to Profit from Other People's Content

I want to be clear straight away that there is NO theft involved in this.

In truth, professionals have been doing the same thing for as long as people have been creating tales, content, and so on.

I'll give you some examples from movies:

Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) is a modern version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

The 1995 film Clueless is based on Jane Austen's Emma.

Cruel Intentions (1999) is a contemporary version of Pierre Choderlos de Lacios' Les Liasons Dangereuses (1792).

Pretty Woman (1990) and She's All That (1993) are both based on George Bernard Shaw's 1912 drama Pygmalion (1999).

In disguise, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

Star Wars is the space equivalent of Akira Kurosawa's 1958 samurai epic The Hidden Fortress.

In fact, I'd wager that at least 9 out of every 10 Hollywood films are based on stories from other films or books.

Despite this, some films gross millions of dollars. So, the question is whether it is ethical or lawful to 'steal' other people's ideas.


It is true that you cannot copyright an idea. All of the best artists (who are honest) will say that they steal a lot, which is what makes their art so great.

There is no reason to keep reinventing the wheel. The wheel was invented once, and since then, people have copied that idea onto their own products, whether they were wheelbarrows, carts, carriages, or cars.

Using other people's ideas (but not their labor) is completely legal, ethical, and even needed if we are to progress as a society.

Assume you come across a 50-page ebook on how to do something. You are not permitted to replicate the actual writing, the author's name, or the book's cover.

However, you can use the ebook's concept to make your own.

West Side Story and Disney's High School Musical both adopted a plot from a well-known dramatist in their respective stories. Can you think what that could have been?

Romeo and Juliet is a short play.

So that traffic-driving book that prompted you to adopt the strategy yourself... you can’t copy that book and sell it.

You can, however, create your own. Or, you can make your own videos. Or, provide a coaching program that teaches the method.

You can write up the approach as your own and sell it as much as you like as long as you do not use the author's copyrighted material such as their writing, screenshots, photos, and so on.

And, if you've employed the technique provided in the text, which you should have done, you'll be able to speak with authority on the subject.

If this makes you uneasy, the remedy is simple: don't do it.

Instead, adapt something from a completely different specialty to your own.

For example, suppose you read a fantastic book on dog training and realize that many of the strategies in that book would also work on your three-year-old.

So you try it out, and sure enough, you've gotten your three-year-old to quit screaming for attention, to eat her food when you give it to her, to follow your basic directions without tantruming, and so on.

Yes, I'm sure I'll get emails from people outraged that I compared training a puppy to training a child. :-)

The point is that what you learn in one area of life may often be applied in another.

I've even heard that some dog training techniques can be utilized to train men. And I can absolutely see it working if you're rewarding us with food, sweet words, and pets for good behavior.

Look through the millions of how-to books available and find something you can adapt to a completely other niche to get all the inspiration you need to create unique products without having to be amazing yourself.

People will think you're brilliant, incidentally.