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.
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?
We can explore the skills the job market is commonly asking for now as well as other skills to consider (even if not yet realizing it).
Learn the Basics
I would encourage everyone to continue growing your knowledge and skills of how to work smarter with:
Spreadsheets because they are a necessary evil. Live it, learn it and love it once you understand how to make data format and flow properly through the fine art of filtering, sorting, pivot tables, vlookups and using other formulas rather than creating basic, monolithic data entry tables with little purpose and lacking smart automation. Character validation for metadata is also possible here.
Word processing because you can do more thanwrite letters and resumes with it. Explore the awesome world of macros to empower you and text.
Presentation software because you may need to give a few presentations and sometimes even make them for others. If you want your points understood by anyone, think more visual and less bullets. Since presenting is a well-known fear which some considered worse than death, I recommend facing your fear (presentations, not death). Learn from the masters and practice presenting regularly.
Collaborative software tools because it allows people to share information as group, discuss it and make decisions together. You might not be working in proximity with some people now or in the near future (such as people working remotely or even globally), but that does not mean you can not share ideas, discuss topics and decide as a group by referring to other people for their experiences, ideas, insights and perspectives.
Meet with real people (not just friends, co-workers and family). Not just online. Not just at parties or because there are drinks available. When you meet someone new who you want/need to continue the conversation with, connect with them online professionally and follow up on the conversation. This is called networking. Real relationships are a give and take (not just one way). Remove your blinders regularly and meet other people around you who may have different interests and perspectives. You may be surprised what you can continually learn by meeting other people. Relevant communication is key.
Whichever project management methodology you happen to study (Agile, PRINCE2, Waterfall), these are invaluable business skills to keep projects:
Learn the principles and key skills such as:
Business analysis techniques
Work breakdown structures
Program sequencing techniques
Risk management methods
A working knowledge of the following coding languages can be very helpful:
You can grow your skills further by learning the full LAMP stack.
Learn to create regularly
Everyone should practice an art of creating something regularly. It does not have to be fine art, but learn to:
create something on your own (or as a group) that can be shared
digitize it if it is a physical creation
Learn to edit
Learn to edit so you can do something constructive with what you create. Learn to see how you can improve things by sharing it with others who will give you constructive feedback. Learn what can be done about issues before they are created (and sometimes how to fix them afterward). Improve your skills as you learn to edit various media which you may be managing at some point as DAM professional. You will literally see and hear the results.
Text editing is a very useful skill. Sometimes it is easier to edit someone else’s text than your own.
Photo editing is process like any other. You can start with editing and managing your family/friend/sports/pet photography as it grows over time. The key is to learn how to manage your photography for the long term (think years) beyond simply the week the images were captured. This can be the beginning of learning the process of digital asset management using photography assets (which have value to you) along with related metadata (so you can search for them easily) and understanding the efforts involved.
Why apply metadata (to search and find assets based on common fields and values applied)
When it comes to managing whether an organization has the licenses and permissions necessary to legally use, reuse and re-purpose any digital asset acquired from external parties, this requires a dive into the field of rights management. While this is often a forgotten liability for many organizations, external vendors are pursuing copyright violations more than ever to recover their lost revenue through image recognition technology among other technologies. Having the skills to understand the rights, communicate the media needs, license media properly for usage and limit liability is a plus for any organization.
Stress does not automagically go away by itself. Learn to deal with stress in a health way. Do not attempt to work all 168 hours per week. The work will still be there if you go home. Avoid procrastination, but take short breaks as needed. Keep in mind that worrying about something does not resolve anything. Do something about it. Focus your energy on either communicating the specific issues with recommended solutions or resolving the issues after weighing the possible solutions.
Learn to manage your time and your tasks wisely by prioritizing. Learn how to prioritize anything. Time management can be applied to all aspects of your work and life, especially if you thrive on accomplishment. Keep in mind that tasks are not successfully completed without the necessary time to accomplish them.
What specific skills should Digital Asset Management professionals have today?
If you can’t answer those five questions, particularly the last one, you may need to perform an internal self audit of your assets. Someone is tracking all licenses for your organization, right? If you don’t know, you may have a liability on your hands.
Here is how you could do a self audit of your assets:
Check with your legal counsel before starting the self audit.
Find and list all the assets you have on hand.
Compare this with any documentation you have to see if they match.
Contact all of the vendors you have licensed assets from.
Let vendors know you would like a confirmation of all licenses with the understanding you are doing this in good faith to redeem any issues. Unless you are blatantly stealing assets regularly, you have little to fear aside from an invoice. You should get a clear idea of what needs to be done and what may need a license.
Vendors will usually reciprocate with the information you need to know and note anything you need to address. You could even ask the vendor to supply the metadata in bulk at the same time.
This will help you get your licensing straightened out, give you a clean slate to continue proper rights management and give your legal counsel less headaches in the future.