I’m including The Life of a Digital Asset infographic (provided by the Asset Bank company) simply so that I get to use the word DAM in every other sentence.
But seriously, Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are currently the most effective way of accessing and publishing digital assets, especially digital media. The Asset Bank infographic displays a sample life cycle of a digital asset in a much clearer way than I can simply in text, but I’ll give it a try anyway:
- A digital asset is created and saved in a digital file which is embedded with its own metadata, usually information such as the time, date, how the image was produced, technical details about the camera, etc…
- The asset is downloaded, carrying the metadata with it. At this point the asset may have additional metadata added to it which may include items such as title, keywords, and creator.
- The image is then sold to a company as part of an advertising campaign.
- After the image has been purchased, it is uploaded into the company’s DAM system. The system then sets usage rights and expiration dates as well as thumbnail versions of the image. The DAM embeds the image’s metadata content into its own and populates the correct fields so that image is fully integrated within the DAM system.
- The image is used according to the terms of the original sale until the expiration date arrives. The DAM system then sends a warning to alert previous users that the asset will soon no longer be available.
- The system removes the asset from active access and may include contact information from the original sale, prompting the administrators to make decisions as whether or not to request an extension on the license or leave it in the DAM archives.
At all points of the process, the DAM system must include the parameters set forth by all of the stakeholders involved. Not only does the system manage ingestion, but it manages the end of life cycle as well. By automating and standardizing the entire process, the company is ensured that they are protected legally as well as maintaining quality control throughout the entire system. Users are ensured that they are only accessing content that is legally available to them and producers are ensured that their work is not being used illegally without further remuneration.
Of course, these systems aren’t foolproof. Companies still have to be concerned with the long-term care of their assets, but in a business or information distribution setting, it’s definitely worth exploring further.