Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management


Can Digital Asset Management reduce liability?

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?

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Why do I need permissions and roles in DAM?

Any Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution worth implementing across an organization should have the following:

  • The ability to assign roles or groups of people who share the same permissions to do things in the DAM. At the very least, there should be at least a few roles  available to assign any user of the DAM:
    • Administrator role often has full control of the DAM and is empowered with full permissions to do anything necessary including configurations.
    • Regular user role usually has limited permissions to do specific things such as preview assets and maybe download assets directly from the DAM.
    • If you wanted to expand to a third role, there is often a power user role. Typically, power users can do more than the average user, but less than the administrator. Often, a power user can upload assets to the DAM.

Depending on who in your organization is supposed to access what collections of assets and be able to do specific tasks with these assets, you may want to create a role which meets each criteria. Why use roles/groups rather than grant each individual user specific permissions one at a time? Well, how many DAM users do you have? Roles are a simple way to bunch groups of users together who need the same permissions. This way, permissions are granted in a uniform manner to users who fall in a specific user role.  This can speed up the process of adding a new user or editing their permissions, instead of visiting each collection and permission for each individual user throughout the DAM.

  • You could have user roles which can preview (read-only) specific collections of assets, but not other collections.
  • You may have roles which can preview, edit, upload and download assets but not delete assets (such as your power user role).
  • You may want a role which can preview and download from only one collection of assets relative to their job function because they often need to use or refer to just these assets.

I would not recommend allowing all users to have all permissions to do everything in the DAM (aka free for all) because that often leads to a lot of inconsistencies, accidents and chaos, particularly deletion.You probably had that before you had a DAM. So, why go back to those times? Do you miss the chaos and headaches for some reason? The idea here is to empower users within each user role to be able to access/do/see what they need in the DAM for their job function. Unless assets are restricted for specific uses or for specific eyes only, there is little reason to limit the access to previewing assets in the DAM, but it is up to the administrator and their management to decide what level of access should be granted to whom. If a user needs to access/do/see more (and is permitted to), permissions and roles can be changed by an administrator to allow more access and usability to users of the DAM.

How do you use permissions and roles within your organization’s DAM?