Have you ever been responsible for choosing the family Christmas card photo? If so, you know that the role comes with great responsibility and considerable risk. You need to find a picture where everyone is smiling, with their eyes open, and any pets included aren’t looking to the side. If you fail to do this, you’re likely to hear about it from both your immediate family and any friends you send the card to.

Similarly, the effective management of rights associated with digital assets is of paramount importance and entails great risk. From ensuring compliance with copyright laws to governing usage and licensing permissions, organizations face numerous challenges in this domain, along with significant risks should anything go wrong. 

Instead of burdening employees with the responsibility of managing a complex web of permissions, what if the decisions were made for them? A robust digital asset management (DAM) program makes this possible, alleviating stress and minimizing risk.

In this article, we'll explore best practices for effectively managing rights on digital assets, providing insights that can help your organization confidently navigate this complex terrain.


Best Practices for Managing Rights on Digital Assets


Centralize Your Digital Assets

The first step in building a DAM program, regardless of its purpose, is collecting all relevant assets in one place. This provides employees with a one-stop shop for any digital assets they may need and centralizes the data related to those assets, including rights information. Putting this information in one place makes for greater efficiency and security in asset accessibility, distribution, and governance.  

By consolidating all pertinent information regarding usage, copyright, and licensing permissions within a unified system, organizations can facilitate efficient access to critical data. This enhances transparency and accountability, empowering stakeholders to make well-informed decisions regarding digital asset utilization. 

To achieve this, you’ll need to ensure that the rights information related to each of your assets is documented so that it can eventually be attached to your assets as metadata. Rights information, including usage permissions and copyright information, can be listed in either an Excel or CSV format, with each asset listed by file name. Licensed assets or those produced by a third-party creator will often come with this information already embedded within the metadata

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Execute a Comprehensive Rights Assessment

Before delving into the intricacies of rights management, it's essential to conduct a comprehensive rights assessment. This involves identifying all digital assets held by your organization, understanding their associated usage rights and restrictions, and ensuring their compliance with relevant copyright laws. 

Now that you understand the benefits of centralizing your digital assets, you can see why documenting the rights information for them would make this process far easier. One helpful tip for developing this documentation is to ask your DAM platform provider (if your assets are already on a DAM platform) for an export of all the metadata already attached to your assets. This export would allow you to view existing rights information in a  more straightforward way. 

As you review the rights information that exists on assets or is missing and needs to be developed, be sure to pay attention to patterns. Look for trends, things to change, or opportunities to standardize the language your organization uses to talk about digital asset rights and permissions. Another thing to audit during this process is the governance features that your DAM platform offers regarding rights management. Often, DAM platforms provide helpful tools to make managing asset rights easier.

By undertaking a thorough rights assessment, your organization can lay a solid foundation for subsequent rights management, thus mitigating the risk of potential legal issues and safeguarding its intellectual property.


Develop a Robust Rights Governance Framework

This is where the patterns, opportunities, trends, and tools you identified during your rights assessment come into play. Equipped with this information, you and your DAM management team can work together to develop policies and procedures regarding rights management. These standards and workflows will allow your team to ensure assets are secured going forward. They will also give your end-users a guide to the do’s and don’ts of accessing and using the assets in your DAM program, thereby reducing the risk of human error in the future. 

By delineating clear guidelines for the creation, acquisition, usage, and distribution of digital assets, your organization can proactively mitigate the risk of rights-related disputes and ensure adherence to copyright and licensing regulations. 

A well-defined rights governance framework fosters a culture of compliance and accountability and positions your organization to navigate the evolving digital rights landscape with resilience.


Implement Robust Metadata Tagging

Getting a governance framework in place, along with understanding the gaps and missing data in your current set of information and assets, is a great foundation for the security of your DAM program. 

Metadata tagging, or “enrichment,”  is essential for maintaining a clear record of the usage rights and copyright permissions associated with your digital assets. By including relevant information such as usage restrictions, expiration dates, and licensing terms in an asset's metadata, this information can quickly be retrieved when needed. This practice both facilitates efficient rights management and minimizes the risk of unauthorized usage.

This process is the key to maintaining the workflows and standards you developed and documented when implementing your DAM program. Ideally, assets are enriched with metadata regarding rights and usage permissions before they enter the DAM system. This means the information regarding rights is added to the assets either by the creator immediately after the asset is created, by a DAM librarian who collects the assets from the creator, or as the asset is ingested into the DAM system by whoever is publishing it. 

To ensure this is done, look into setting up the required metadata fields in your DAM platform. To learn more about metadata, check out this article.  


Regularly Audit and Update Permissions

Digital asset permissions are dynamic and can change over time. Therefore, it's imperative to conduct regular audits of your assets' usage rights and copyright permissions. By staying proactive and updating permissions as necessary, you can avoid potential legal pitfalls and ensure that your digital assets adhere to all applicable regulations.

Along with regularly assessing your assets and the rights information associated with them, be sure to update your governance guidelines regularly. These workflows and standards should be as dynamic as your organization, so be sure to keep them up to date for the sake of your end-users, whether they're your employees or contracted content creators.



The effective management of rights on digital assets is a multifaceted endeavor that demands careful planning and strategic execution. By embracing the best practices outlined in this article, organizations can strengthen their rights management capabilities, instilling confidence in their ability to govern the usage, copyright, and licensing permissions of their digital assets. 

If you need help managing the rights on your digital assets, contact Stacks today!  Our team of DAM experts can help you implement any or all of the best practices discussed in this article.

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