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How to Manage Usage Rights for Images & Photos in DAM
11 min read
Digital asset management (DAM) is a tool made for the management and distribution of assets in a professional environment. Certain expectations come from that implication.
After all, you're not just a blogger or anonymous user on the Internet who can use any image they find as they see fit. Misusing images without understanding licenses and digital rights associated with them can be a costly mistake that may damage both company's reputation and finances.
This is why modern DAM software, Pics.io included, has certain tools and capabilities to help you manage and govern those rights easier.
In today's article, we will talk about what digital rights are, why are they important, and how to manage them better through digital asset management.
Let's dig in.
What are Image Usage Rights?
Image usage rights are a type of protection for digital assets.
This article isn't going to be legal advice per se, so I'm going to skip the legalese and explain it in brief terms. Digital photo usage rights dictate who is the ultimate owner of the image and how you can use the image in commercial and non-commercial settings.
An example would be as follows: a freelance photographer uploads a photo online. So they're the owner. As an owner, they can do whatever they want with a photo.
Another individual comes by and wants to use that photo for their needs. The extent of what they can and cannot do with that image would be governed by the specific image rights that the photographer chooses to enforce.
Now, let's look at the most common types of image use rights.
Types of Image Usage Rights
If an image is copyrighted that means you cannot copy, distribute, or use an image in any way without explicit permission from the owner. Failing to comply with copyright and unlawfully using a copyrighted image in a commercial setting is an easy way to open yourself up for fines and lawsuits.
So, what to do about it? It depends on the image in question. If a high-profile brand commissioned an image/photo specifically for them, they certainly won't budge and let go of their rights to the image.
Stock image websites are another story. It's a type of marketplace where creators are willing to give you a license to use their image for an agreed-upon fee. But, even here, there is nuance as there are two common license types: royalty-free and rights-managed.
Royalty-free means that you purchase a license and then you can use that image as many times and whenever you want.
Rights-managed, adds more limitations. First, you need to decide if you want to acquire an exclusive or non-exclusive license. Then, unlike the royalty-free scenario, you are usually buying a license for one specific project. For example, if you want to use images on your website, that's going to be one project that you've bought a license for. If you want to re-use that image somewhere else (like on a printed booklet), that would be the second project, and photo usage rights here need to be negotiated on a separate basis.