29 Nov

A Roundtable Discussion: Governance Strategies for Assets & Usage Rights


What happens when you put people from different types of industries and different sized organizations together to talk about digital asset management processes and governance strategies? You guessed it, you find that there are practically no differences among them!

At DAM LA, I had the pleasure of facilitating a roundtable discussion with attendees at varying stages of their digital asset management practice and process implementations. The stages encountered can be broken down into three levels:

Level 1 – The business has recognized that internal processes are needed as related to the storage, searchability and usage of their digital assets but none are in place. Those at this level do not have any DAMs implemented.

Level 2 The business has begun taking internal action to organize and manage their digital assets but has few governing processes in place. Those at this level have either a DAM or central location for assets implemented.

Level 3 – The business has implemented a DAM for better manageability of their digital assets and has started to implement multiple processes for governance. Those at this level are more mature in their DAM stage but may still be adding enhancements on top of their DAM or finding additional ways to bring governance through business process and automation.

Upon the gathering of those at different levels, the question came up as to what triggers a company to decide that they need to move upward from the level of asset organization that they are currently at. The primary answer is that some sort of event happened that caused financial burden, in most cases that was a lawsuit. One attendee, mentioned an example where they had posted a YouTube video from one of their sponsored sporting events. The video clip had music playing in the background that was not approved by the artist and therefore a lawsuit was filed (later settled in the millions). Several other attendees also admitted to having major lawsuits involving the misuse of their assets.

Ironically no matter what the level, the attendees all had the same similarities surrounding challenges and risks.

  • If an asset requires clearance, the process for approval requires some sort of manual intervention. This means that the businesses are placing full trust in their employees when it comes the final decision of allowing an asset to be used.
  • One Level 3 business has hired extra employees and formed specific teams related to asset clearance verification but that has now added to the company overhead. This means that they are spending additional money for these hires post the spend for a DAM. In this case the DAM being used has been enhanced for additional rights metadata capabilities but even with that, there is a need for someone to manually read through the metadata.
    • It was further discussed that assets could have at least five or more rights contracts associated with them. How do you trust that someone reading the metadata in the DAM can cross reference all of those rights or that all of the proper details have been entered in the first place?
  • One participant commented that they did not want to employ personnel that did not see it as a priority to properly research an asset’s usage rights.
  • Even though a DAM may have been implemented, there still are obstacles around where the rights contractual data is held.
    • There was a significant crossover between all levels where most companies were not maintaining the contracts that contain the asset rights information in the same location as the assets themselves.
    • If rights metadata was being stored in the DAM, there are challenges with efficiency surrounding the amount of time to reference the information and make decisions around use.
      • In some cases, companies have asked their DAM if they could create reporting around rights. One particular concern is asset expiration and maintenance of those assets in the DAM.
  • Fear that no matter what processes are put in place that they will never be good enough, as technology is moving at such a rapid pace. Companies are starting to fall victim of “internet bots” that are specifically used for the auditing purposes of finding materials that are misused. There was open admittance that there was a need to ensure that assets were organized with rights information to their maximum capabilities, so that the minimum amount of unauthorized assets end up going out on the web. However there is an acknowledgement that there may always be a challenge of someone copying an asset from an authorized use site and placing it up somewhere else illegally (for example on Facebook).

In conclusion, the Roundtable was asked to brainstorm together what type of process improvements could be further made to get them to a possible Level 4. Based on the current state of the digital asset management practices, it seemed as if there was a need for a better methodology for contractual rights maintenance along with a way to alleviate the manual intervention necessary for asset clearance. This discussion also validated that there is a general consensus that most are open to any type of new method that will help minimize the legal headaches being experienced around asset misuse!

Categories associated with this post: Asset Rights Clearance, Conference Insights
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Donna Marr

Donna supports Rights Cloud implementations and IPM Suite client services for FADEL. She brings over 15 years of experience in the entertainment industry and a strong background working with financial system implementations and enhancements. Her expertise includes project management, business analysis, data analysis and, most importantly, building partnerships with clients. Prior to joining FADEL, Donna worked for Hollywood Software, which manages movie theater bookings, box office grosses and accounts payable transactions. Before that she worked with Universal Music Group Distribution and EMI Music Marketing / Capitol Records, where she managed digital music sales and royalty transactions within their finance departments.


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