America is known for three things: Apple pie, baseball, and people suing other people.
Okay, so that last one about Americans suing might not be as true as some people like to believe — it is more of an American stereotype at this point.
That being said, it’s important that your company takes all the precautions they can when it comes to avoiding legal action against your business.
To illustrate this, we need to look no further than an issue that had nearly 4,000 cases in the U.S. in 2016 alone — copyright infringement.
For businesses who are putting out a lot of content — whether on blogs, social media, and elsewhere — this can be a big problem.
Today, we’re going to talk about the dangers of using unlicensed images and assets, as well as some strategies to help ensure that your team is only using properly licensed digital assets for your brands.
To put things in the simplest of terms, you’re likely guilty of copyright infringement if you’re using an image or asset that you did not create or did not receive or purchase a license to use.
In many instances, people who commit copyright infringement don’t do so with ill-intent. Instead, they simply just don’t know any better or assume an image is free to use.
For example, many people just head to Google images, grab an image they like that doesn’t have a watermark or copyright stamp, and use it for their website or blog. They just don’t know they are breaking the law.
Unfortunately, whoever's image they are using, well, that person typically doesn’t cut them any slack. This is because copyright infringement can actually be pretty profitable for the owners of the image or asset.
There are a lot of large firms out there who license images. These firms have dedicated computers that traverse the internet and track down which of their images are being used on websites without the proper licensed.
For example, let’s say one of your content writers was writing a piece on the state of the food and beverage market. They looked for an image on the internet and found one they liked on another blog. That blog owner licensed that image through the licensing firm. But, only they have the right to use it — no one else. Even if that blog owner gave your content writer permission to use it, that won’t cut it. Your company is now in danger of being found by one of those tracking computers.
Once they catch you — which is likely — they’ll send you an email to take the image down. But, that’s not all. They can also demand a large amount of money and if you don’t give them what they ask for, they might threaten to take you to court.
And, the larger your company is, the more they will demand from you because they know that you can pay it.
So, now that we’ve outlined just how bad a copyright infringement penalty can be, how can you ensure that your team is only using properly licensed digital assets?
Let’s talk through some proven strategies that will help you avoid running into this problem.
As mentioned, many copyright infringers simply don’t know that they’ve done something illegal.
You should make sure that your teams are educated on what copyright infringement is, as well as how costly it can be for your business when they aren’t using properly licensed digital assets.
Here are a few ways to do this:
Yearly meetings going through asset licensing protocol - Just because you’ve told your teams once about copyright infringement doesn’t mean it hurts to mention it again. And again. And again. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it every week or month, but at least once a year should do the trick.
Have your process for obtaining licensed assets outlined for all to see - For those who maybe need an extra reminder every now and then, having a process for getting licensed assets available for everyone to see is a must.
Onboard new members of your team thoroughly - Always, always onboard new team members on getting properly licensed digital assets — especially when it comes to those who will be working on creating content and other marketing materials for your company.
This is much easier for larger companies, but for those who have, most of their resources dedicated elsewhere, creating your own images and assets can be difficult.
However, there are a couple of benefits of gathering assets this way.
First, you can obviously avoid any copyright issues.
But second — and just as important — you can help improve your brand image.
Imagine you have two website homepages right next to one another.
One of the websites uses stock images of non-descript models that don’t tell you a whole lot about their company and the culture they have.
The other uses images of their actual employees on their website and is full of their own custom made digital assets.
Which one do you think will have a better initial impression on their consumers? Definitely the one that is crafting their own original images and assets.
Aside from having a semi-NSFW abbreviation, digital asset management (DAM) systems are also your first, second, and last defense against employees using unlicensed assets.
Basically, with DAM, you can make it much easier for your employees to find the licensed assets you possess without A.) Needing to search for an asset online and risk copyright infringement or B.) Waste time asking around the office trying to find someone who does have the image or asset they need.
In addition to these benefits, a DAM solution can also help your business in the following ways:
Advanced search capabilities - DAM software will give your team the ability to find exactly what they are looking for and fast. With advanced search capabilities, they can search for specific keywords and use filters to find what they need as soon as they need it.
Consistent brand image - A DAM solution will keep all your assets up to date as changes are made to them. And, because you can keep all your brand assets in one spot, you’ll be able to keep everything consistent, including logos, fonts, images of your products, etc.
Controlled access - DAM software allows you to control who gets access to what, as well as track who edited what and when.
Metadata capabilities - A DAM solution will also store and embed information about each of your files and assets, including original, copyright, technical specifications, and any keywords associated with it.
If you’re looking to streamline your team’s access to your digital assets to ensure you’re avoiding copyright infringement and to make your marketing, content, and overall business more effective, then it’s time to give us a call.
Every day, marketers across the world are using MediaBeacon to drive asset creation, help their team easily find assets, and distribute those assets with maximum efficiency.
Specifically talking about digital rights management, MediaBeacon allows you to control who has access to assets, enforce expiration dates based on licensing, and require collaborators to acknowledge licensing agreements before downloading assets.
To read more about how we can help your business thrive in your respective industry, click here.
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We’re looking forward to hearing from you!