Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

The business case for machine readable rights

A big question at the recent IPTC Machine Readable Rights Workshop was how to get people to adopt a standard for rights metadata. A “business case” would certainly help: There will often be no budget if machine readable rights don’t save money (or even earn it).

Below is a short list of possible business cases. I don’t have any numbers, but these cases are all coming from our customers – it’s what they considered when deciding whether to invest in rights management software:

Save time when selecting and using digital assets: no need to read the editor’s notes, users see at a glance which assets can be used – or they don’t see unusable assets in the first place.

Buy cheaper assets or reuse the ones you already bought: You can encourage users to choose a less costly, or free, or broader-licensed asset.

Avoid buying the same asset twice. It does happen; users sometimes don’t know that someone else already licensed it.

Save time when processing royalties. This is usually a time-consuming manual process that could be optimized with the help of metadata.

Allow for budgeting – knowing during production, in “real time”, how many royalties you’re currently paying can help avoid excessive spending.

Reduce legal costs. License or copyright infringement can be expensive, and damage your reputation.

Repurpose content more easily, hopefully earning you money via new publishing channels.

License out content to others and earn money. You really need to know an asset’s rights before you can resell it.

Note that it takes more than just “rights” to make this work: The digital assets have to be uniquely identified (duplicate copies with conflicting metadata are bad), their usage must be fully documented (“when did we publish this image?”), and legal issues and contracts must be encoded in metadata (permissions, restrictions, and costs).