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How to protect your company’s digital content

Jul 16, 2020

What is once shared online, stays online. We all know this, though not everyone keeps it in mind at all times. When a digital image becomes part of the public domain, the rules of copyright start to blur.

A holiday picture that is shared on Facebook is owned by you, but Facebook has the authority to do whatever it wants to do with your photo until it’s removed. More importantly, photos are easily copied or shared which makes it more difficult to track how and where your images are being used. This implies to intellectual property as well.

How can you ensure that the images of your brand are safe for use on the web?

Licensing your content tells others what they can and cannot do

One of the most common practices for protecting images from violations is the creative commons license. Let’s say your organization has partners or distributors that need to use your images and other branded content. You will most likely have some idea of where it is okay to use your content and where it is not. You can communicate that by different level licenses.

The creative commons license is a three-layer mechanism that makes copyright information understandable for computers and people and includes the necessary legal control for protecting assets. The creative commons license comes in the following varieties:

Attribution

The Attribution version is the most open format. It allows users to replicate, copy, edit, tweak and redistribute the content, even for commercial use. As an owner, you give away all your rights. Meaning that you cannot fully be compensated when you think your content is being used in an inappropriate context.

Attribution ShareAlike 

The ShareAlike variant gives the same freedom as the standard attribution licenses, but those who use the image have to credit the original creator.

Attribution-NoDerivs

The original work may be redistributed, but no alterations can be made to the original. The original creator has to be credited.

Attribution-NonCommercial

As the name implies, NonCommercial licenses allow users to replicate, copy, edit, tweak and redistribute the content but only for non-commercial use. The user has to acknowledge the original creator but doesn’t have to purchases a license. A company blog is in essence commercial use, so be wary of using images without consent throughout your blog.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

The rules are equal to the NonCommercial license, but users can only publish following works under the same licenses and cannot deviate from the original agreement.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

NoDerivs has the tightest rules of all licenses. It’s only possible for users to download or share your works, but they have to credit you and cannot use it for commercial purposes.

While the creative commons license is a powerful tool, it’s not a full-fledged copyright alternative but a step between free use and copyright. The differences between the types of creative commons licenses are significant and may be confusing for some.

Control your assets with Digital Asset Management

Another, perhaps easier way to make sure that everyone uses your assets properly is keeping all your digital assets in a central location where your organization’s brand managers can manage the content and user levels of groups and individual users.

Admins can mitigate the risk of improper content use by simply hiding some assets from users that shouldn’t have access to them while avoiding having different drives and cloud locations for different users and assets. An advanced Digital Asset Management solution (DAM) will allow the admins to monitor which assets have been used or shared, when and by whom.

Many businesses implement DAMs to ensure the proper use of their brand assets with external and internal stakeholders. Managing images, videos, and any other digital content through a central location provides security and brand consistency. With the use of branded templates, no one will design marketing collateral that go against the corporate identity, for instance through outdated images or by using the wrong font.

Prevent misuse by following copyright requirements

So, one central location that ensures the correct use of digital assets, check! But how do you make sure that your assets stay under your brand’s control after they have been downloaded or published? Stating copyright can be difficult since there are many laws that each protect specific areas. There is a specific set of requirements that need to be in the file, which fall under “Copyright Management Information”:

  • The title and other information identifying the work, including the information set forth in a notice of copyright;
  • The name of, and other identifying information about, the author of a work or;
  • The name of, and other identifying information about, the copyright owner of the work, including the information set forth in a notice of copyright.

Unfortunately, this does not always prevent people from copying and using your content. But by fully protecting what is rightfully yours, you can build a strong case against copyright infringement.

Digital Asset Management tools can help you implement this data for all your publications. With metadata management, an advanced DAM system can implement the various licenses into your digital assets.

 If you’d like to learn more about how an advanced DAM could help you, have a look at our free white book about improving your marketing with DAM.

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