During one of the many DAM events, a fellow Digital Asset Management (DAM) professional stopped me and asked whether I believe part of our job was to minimize liability within an organization. I answered yes. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why that is true and why organizations use this (in part) as another justification to acquire, implement and use Digital Asset Management properly:
- The general nature of sharing digital assets within the organization (minimizing the cost of re-acquiring or re-creating assets) along with the permission structure per role/group (self-regulation) which can make digital assets known to many people and accessible only to those who should be able to use them (access control).
- Use of Digital Asset Management with Rights Management for each use of a digital asset (yes, more than one use per digital asset can increase ROI) and can be part of a business plan.
- Minimize the piles of work for general counsel (lawyers) by significantly reduce the amount of:
- copyright infringements (where is the link to these contracts and terms as metadata?)
- usage rights violations (where is the link to these contracts and terms as metadata?)
- property/model release violations (where is the link to these contracts and terms as metadata?)
- over extensions of talent contracts (where are talent contract expiration dates kept and are they linked to the assets they appear in?)
- mergers and acquisition of unusable digital assets which can represent a major loss in value (those assets could have been migrated into a DAM)
- Paperwork (PDF is an ISO standard. PDF with good OCR is your friend. Paper is not a digital asset. PDFs often appear as digital assets in a DAM.)
- Simplified discovery and internal disclosure of what assets were created vs. acquired for the purposes of rights management (a big liability per use of a licensed digital asset if not cared for properly). See US copyright law and digital millenium act when it comes to laws within the US. There is no international copyright law. Not surprising, but laws and regulations can vary per country. It is also not a secret that large media vendors are making a lot of money pursuing violators once the fees exceed a certain financial threshold before turning on legal action since it can cost fair amount to do this in the first place. Yes, lawsuits are still one of America’s favorite indoor sports. However, many infringements and violations are settled out of court to avoid negative publicity and additional fees. In full disclosure, I am not lawyer nor have I studied law. I do know how to read though.
- Information about digital assets and all of their usage (where and how these are used by the organization) should be clear and documented with the assets in the DAM. Tracking the assets can help as well. Here is a podcast interview where we touch on these points.
- Many of these reasons save green. How much less time is being burned in searching and finding appropriate information in a centralized database with references to the source of the digital asset? What is that amount of time worth to an organization? What is that time worth when it comes to reducing the time to market for many digital assets in many media formats to be delivered across different marketing and sales channels nationally or even globally? Forget physical delivery of marketing materials which can be outdated or misprinted (another liability which can be managed/corrected through digital delivery…not email) by the time a new product or service is released publicly (and when it should be released).
As Digital Asset Management professionals, we are regularly in contact with legal entities because clients sometimes require guidance from a SME (like myself) on technical details and contracts which are sometimes written by a vendor to the client’s disadvantage. Some organizations vet all agreements through their legal counsel prior to signing them. While many attorneys can catch the bulk of the issues in a contract, technical details are something where they may require an experienced SME’s eye to catch technical issues, clarify into understandable English and help guide them to a more favorable position.
If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on how to reduce liability with Digital Asset Management, let us know.
If you work with Digital Asset Management on daily basis, how do you reduce your organization’s liability with digital assets?
March 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Nice summary of a extremely complex issue. My first DAM was actually sponsored by an executive with an intellectual property background. She may have been one of the few lawyers that saw the DAM as a proactive approach to limiting legal issues that were usually triggered by production mistakes based on people having limited or no information. Over all, I have been amazed at the lack of operational leadership in the legal community about these issues. I now believe DAM professionals need to take a prescriptive approach to managing rights. You can’t eliminate the bad behavior of someone who chooses to ignore or work around any controls built into your DAM but you can set it up so that thoughtful people have the information they need to get there job done without having to bounce everything off the legal department. In someways, it should be considered part of the ROI but most likely is seen as too vague for people in finance to be counted.
May 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM
What is the DMCA? by How Stuff Works Tech on Mixcloud
What is the DMCA? Digital Millennium Copyright Act
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May 19, 2015 at 8:23 PM
Reducing future liability can be and has sometimes been the main justification for the spending on a DAM system. This liability can be around maintaining brand consistency, managing video clips, manuscripts, licensed photography and/or managing talent with contracts limiting the use of their likeness to specific geographic regions/time frames. DAM can reduce these legal pain points.
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February 15, 2017 at 12:02 PM
Want to hear about other ways to reduce your liability? Check out Rights.tech to hear about Rights Management standards, technology and more.
If you prefer to read more about this topic, check out The Global State of Rights Management 2016: Interviews with Industry Professionals