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The price of digital asset mismanagement

by on November 12, 2021 in Business, Lead Article

The price of digital asset mismanagement

The proliferation of digital images means businesses need systems in place to ensure they stay on the right side of copyright and data protection law.

The increasing availability and use of digital images by businesses makes it harder to manage those images, and to ensure compliance with digital intellectual property (IP) rights and data protection legislation. A digital asset management (DAM) survey by FotoWare shows that 72% of businesses had seen a rise in the number of digital assets they handled in the past 12 months, 55% of them saying that organising their digital assets – with many of them trying to manage thousands of assets – was a challenge.

Marketing teams, in particular, often rely on images of employees and others for advertising and branding purposes, and therefore need to effectively manage the permissions of all subjects featured in all images used. But consent management strategies need to be company-wide, as there are many departments which could potentially make use of images which have rights associated with them. Therefore, it is vital to keep up-to-date and easily accessible records of rights, consents and permissions. Automated digital asset management software with integrated consent management helps to comply with such obligations.

There are two main types of assets – people and commercial imagery. Both rights management and consent management have to be in place to help satisfy intellectual property requirements and data protection provisions such as the UK GDPR and the EU GDPR.

In addition to the potential misuse of images, there’s also the issue of a lack of consent by the subject of an image which can breach data protection and privacy legislation. For breaches of EU GDPR, for example, businesses could be looking at penalties of up to $23m (€20 million) or 4% of a company’s global turnover, whichever is the higher.

In recent times, there have been several high-profile lawsuits brought against companies for 

copyright infringement.

Video game developer, Capcom  was slapped with a  $12 million lawsuit when a US photographer claimed it used  80 of her images without consent. Last year, another US photographer sued Microsoft $2.25 million for allegedly using 15 of her images for an MSN article without a license or her permission. Copyright infringement lawsuits of this nature against corporations show no signs of abating.

It’s not only photographers asserting their intellectual property rights, it’s amateur  photographers too. Streaming giant Netflix settled a case out of court when it used a composite image of a supercell thunderstorm by amateur photographer Sean Harvey to promote its series, Stranger Things. His case was pursued by Pixsy, an organisation that helps photographers fight breaches of copyright by using image look-up technology, which utilises artificial intelligence to monitor and detect copyright infringement. 

Elsewhere, we see that even if you are the subject of the image and it was taken without your consent, the creator of the image still has intellectual property rights over the image.

For instance, paparazzi have sued celebrities for using photographs of themselves on social media that the former had taken without their consent.

Companies can better comply with data protection and privacy legislation by implementing strategies and systems in place to capture, monitor and alert stakeholders of changes in consent. An illustration of potential liability arising is when a former employee, who had previously given consent to his or her image being used, leaves the business and exercises their right of withdrawal and erasure of their personal identifiable information.

A consent management system provides a number of benefits including:

  • Requesting and gathering consent quickly and easily
  • Providing a full overview of who has consented and to what. For example, while one person may consent to have their images shared on social media, another might only consent to have them stored and shared internally
  • Added flexibility and efficiency with the ability to use the feature on mobile devices and desktops
  • The possibility to design multiple consent forms tailored to your needs
  • An embedded QR-code that can enable a large number of people to provide consent on their own initiative

Dancing to the digital asset management tune

Digital asset management software can help avoid common pitfalls by efficiently streamlining consent-giving and management processes, such as at the San Francisco Ballet. The dance company previously had to manually obtain image approvals from the artistic department and the dancers themselves by printing off images and presenting them for approval. Not only was this a time-consuming process, but it was also difficult for dancers to properly view details of the images and there was no audit trail to show what had been approved, when and by whom.

Once the San Francisco Ballet implemented a DAM system, it was able to digitise and streamline its approval process. After performances have taken place, the Company alerts dancers by app or email to obtain permission to use specific images. If they consent, the artists then simply enable the permissions which are transferred to their files.

Managing and tracking consent around digital assets and their licensing can be accelerated through electronic, automated systems. Digital consent management (DCM) software centrally manages permissions around images and videos, enabling relevant files and the consent pertaining to them to be easily located. Furthermore, individuals are able to withdraw their consent at any time, an important compliance feature.

Managing consent and permissions around images is a key area of compliance that is often overlooked. Deploying a robust digital consent management can save businesses time and cost challenges caused by inefficient image storage and consent management, as well as providing an assurance that they are complying with rights and privacy legislation.

By Alex Kronenberg, Demand Generation and Community Manager, FotoWare

Alex is FotoWare’s Demand Generation and Community Manager. Alex has a background in digital marketing and journalism and his role is focused on building brand awareness, generating inbound leads across a variety of target verticals, managing digital sales of FotoWare’s SaaS solution and its single-user product, FotoStation.

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