You may think that rights are things that only big companies need to worry about, but this is far from the reality.
If you have a website, then there's a fair chance that you have acquired rights for software. In fact, a simple website probably has many, many licences attached to it, from open source to fully commercial. And then every image that you use on your website, brochure and presentations have rights attached to them.
Of course, you can ignore all of this, but clients are increasingly conscious of the need to audit their suppliers and maximise the rights they own and have acquired, so there are sound commercial reasons for effectively managing your rights.
Companies have two kinds of rights to deal with:
Rights in or acquired rights
Rights out or rights owned and available for sale
These obviously need to be dealt with separately, but rights in and rights out can often be linked. If you produce a book, but use an illustrator; if you produce a video with music and actors, you are dealing with rights in linked to rights out, and often this can be part of an even wider ecosystem. We call this the "rights chain".
The effective management of your rights involves a number of key steps:
- Audit and record your rights
- Make your rights available and searchable
- Track the usage and sales of your rights
- Link your rights to other business systems
Rights are often granted or defined in contracts or deals. Sometimes they are bundled together or offered as part of comprehensive access: a viewer's Spotify or Netflix accounts is an example of this, as would be a subscription to an image bank or music library.
These rights, in turn, are made up of what we call "rights dimensions": these cover what rights have been acquired or awarded, eg territory, language, window (start and end time and date), usage, platforms and so on...
The permutations are potentially infinite.
Traditionally the granting and usage of rights are handled by lawyers in non-standard contracts, but increasingly larger organisations such as Amazon, Apple and Netflix handle their rights in a standardised way.
Moreover, software such as TV Everywhere's Assetry platform enable rights to be managed effectively in the cloud. It's used by major brands, ad agencies and even pharma companies, indicating how prominent rights management is becoming; important not only financially, but also for compliance.
It's time for every organisation to reflect and review on how they use and manage rights. In a world where many things are becoming virtualised, rights are everything.