8 min

Written by Claudia Pavković


How You Can Protect and Control the Use of Your Assets

Use professional Digital Rights Management to protect your digital assets and ensure controlled publication of your media. In this article, we explain exactly what it is and how it works.

Table of Contents

What is Digital Rights Management (DRM)? 

Digital Rights Management, or DRM for short, describes the management of usage and access authorizations for files and data. This is done using software that controls who can view and use digital files and data, and prevents unauthorized use. 

Typical reasons for DRM are: 

  • To protect copyrights 
  • To comply with license conditions 
  • To keep data up to date 
  • To manage user roles 

Digital Rights Management of Various Data 

Digital Rights Management is associated with placing restrictions on users. It is often referred to as restriction management. For example, restricting access can prevent the use of images for which the license has expired. 

Other rights that can be managed with a DRM system are: 

  • Viewing files 
  • Editing files 
  • Copying files 
  • Publishing files 
  • Sharing files 
  • Downloading files 

In a DRM system, you can define the duration and specify time windows for the use of your assets. 

You can protect any file via DRM, be it an image, video, audio, or a document such as a PDF file. Digital Rights Management software can help you to apply, manage, and control rights directly on your files. 

How Digital Rights Management Works 

Digital Rights Management can be realized with corresponding software. The appropriate Digital Rights Management software has four main tasks

  • Archive and manage files and data 
  • Protect content, e.g., by encrypting 
  • Manage rights via an individual authorization concept 
  • Control and manage access rights 

We examine the individual steps of reliable rights management in more detail below. 

1. Develop an Authorization Concept 

To protect your files and assets, you should first consider a suitable authorization concept. Start by asking whether the asset may be used at all – and if so, where, when, and by whom. 

These properties can be linked directly to the respective asset in the DRM software. 

You might do this, for example, by enriching the files with corresponding meta information, storing the license conditions and approval status, and assigning the appropriate user roles. 

If you have purchased the image rights for a photo that you will use for marketing purposes, the license can be stored directly on the file. That way, you can see how long the image license is still valid for, and what you or your employees need to be mindful of when using the image. 

2. Review your Authorization Concept 

If, in the second step, someone wants to use a particular asset, Digital Rights Management software reviews the file properties in terms of the authorization concept: 

  • Can the person’s user role view the asset? 
  • Can the person use the asset? 
  • Where may the asset be used? 
  • How long may the asset be used? 
  • May the asset be shared? If yes: Which other roles may the file be forwarded to; only internally or externally as well? 

The software compares the properties of the asset with the properties of the user and allows the use of the file accordingly. 

3. Document Usage 

At the same time, the DRM system documents every use of your files. That way, you can trace exactly who has used the asset, where, and when. For example, did a marketing employee incorporate the image in the website, or did a media designer use it on a flyer? 

In the usage history, you can find the answers to all your questions and see whether the asset has been shared, and with whom. 

4. Control Usage Rights 

Opt for a Digital Rights Management software that monitors how up to date usage rights and licenses are for you and reminds you when they are about to expire. That way, you can renew image rights before the license expires. 

Otherwise, the program will automatically prevent the files from being used after expiry of the license. Then it will no longer be possible to download the image, or it will no longer be visible to certain groups of people. 

Digital Rights Management with a Digital Asset Management System 

A Digital Asset Management system (DAM) is the modern solution to creating and managing a comprehensive database of all your images, videos, marketing materials, and other digital assets. 

As well as ensuring clearly organized files and simplified searches, DAM offers the following advantage: You can enrich your assets with valuable information, such as licenses, approval status, usage periods and role-specific usage rights. 

The DAM system allows you to manage the rights for your digital assets on one multifunctional platform. 

Benefits of Digital Rights Management Software 

As you can see, modern DRM systems relieve you of many time-consuming tasks when it comes to Digital Rights Management. Check whether your image licenses are up to date at a glance, assign role-based usage rights and ensure GDPR-compliant digital archiving

We explain the five biggest benefits of Digital Rights Management software in more detail below. 

1. More Control over your Digital Files 

With Digital Rights Management software, you have full control over your files. At the same time, you can allow your employees and different departments to work with them independently. All usage rights are stored directly in the system and are automatically controlled by it. 

You also benefit from seamless documentation of all activities. A glance at your usage history is all you need to know how the respective asset has been used. 

By the way: A Master Data Management system not only allows you to manage the license conditions of images, but also the usage rights of all your data, such as text fragments, contact details or product information.  

2. Automatic Rights Management at a Glance 

With Digital Rights Management software, you can link all the properties needed for license management directly to the respective asset. The software will then check these for you automatically. 

For example, it shows you the approval status of the assets using a clear traffic light system. If the usage period for an image has expired, the traffic light system switches to red and you can see at a glance that the image can no longer be used. Even better: The software actively prevents you from downloading, sharing, or publishing the file on your website. 

This saves you a lot of time that you would otherwise waste on manually checking and adjusting your licenses. 

3. Prevent Errors 

The advantage of digital files? They are easy to process. In only a few clicks, you can post a video to social media or send a flyer to print. However, it is just as easy to accidentally send a brochure with expired images. 

Prevent errors like these with DRM software. Then, you can determine that only your design team may edit images and use them for specific purposes. 

When it comes to image rights and usage rights of digital works, every error can mean a hefty penalty. Protect the copyrights of third parties and your own content with Digital Rights Management. 

4. Manage Internal and External Collaborations 

Define different user roles and access rights in your DRM system. This ensures that only certain departments of your company can edit files or only selected data collections are approved for sharing, allowing you to better manage internal and external collaborations. Do you work with external service providers in your company and want to send your assets to them for further processing? Then share your files with appropriate editing rights. That way, you can keep track of which files you have shared with whom, and with what rights. 

5. Ensure Compliance 

DRM means protecting copyrights and data against unauthorized access. DRM solutions are ideal for ensuring GDPR-compliant digital archiving in your company and fulfilling the relevant requirements. 

Another important compliance-related task in your company is to ensure that images, videos, and other material are only used with the corresponding licenses. Managing licenses is also part of Digital Rights Management. 

Do I Need DRM Software? 

DRM systems are recommended for all companies that work with large inventories of digital files. Ensure professional management and correct usage of your digital assets at all times with Digital Rights Management. 

Here are some reasons to establish a modern DRM system in your company: 

  • Your assets and data are protected against unauthorized access and reproduction. 
  • You have more control over how, when, where, and by whom your digital files are used. 
  • You allow your employees to work independently with your assets, without constantly having to check for correct usage. 
  • You assign access rights according to the target group via role-based authorizations. 
  • DRM protection allows you to share files securely, both internally and externally. 
  • You fulfil all the requirements of GDPR for the protection of personal data. 

Invest in modern Digital Asset Management like the 4ALLPORTAL system for comprehensive management of your entire inventory of digital assets. 

Claudia Pavković

Marketing Development Representative

I always have an open ear for you. My goal is to listen to you and discuss suitable solutions together with my experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technical solution to protect digital files. The goal is to prevent unauthorized access and unwanted distribution. A DRM system helps to define and control certain usage rights.

Every image is subject to copyright law. In order for users to use photographs, illustrations, and other third-party image material, they must have the corresponding rights. Usually, these are acquired by obtaining an image license. The license typically defines how long and for what purpose the image may be used.

In the Digital Asset Management system, you can link the usage rights for your images directly to the asset. Now you can view all the applicable license conditions at any time. When the license expires, the system locks the corresponding file. DAM is the ideal solution for Digital Rights Management.

In order to use third-party images, you must obtain the permission of the author or copyright owner and a license for the image. To do so, you need to conclude a usage contract. This defines the concrete license conditions and usage rights.

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