UGC Digital Rights Management 101

In 2013 the popular news site Buzzfeed ran into some trouble when they failed to properly execute Digital Rights Management. The news outlet had used a photograph from photographer Kai Eiselein, without first obtaining the correct permissions. The result was a costly lawsuit that was filed for damages in excess of $3.6 Million. With the amount of User-Generated Content (UGC) that streams across social media networks and company websites on a daily basis, brands have to be certain that they are complying with digital rights management laws.

When do you have to request permission?

Under U.S. law, it is unlawful to distribute, publicly display, reproduce, etc. a copyrighted work without having direct authorization from the copyright owner. With this in mind, there is a fair use exception that states that content can be used “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, … scholarship, or research.” With these exceptions in mind, you still need to request permission for using UGC materials for marketing purposes that aren’t considered a part of the original campaign. In addition, you must obtain permission to use any content that features your brand, but is outside the parameters of your publicly announced campaign.

Problems You Run Into When You Don’t Have a Digital Rights Management System

Throughout the past few years there have been several examples of the legal repercussions that can occur when you don’t have a Digital Rights Management system in place. As seen in the Kai Eiselein vs. Buzzfeed case, proper permissions and attributions must be given before an image can be pulled from a social media site and used to the benefit of a brand.

In a similar case, Getty ran into legal troubles when they pulled a photograph down from Twitter, claimed that it was one of their own, and subsequently found themselves at the center of a lawsuit. The lesson learned from this example was simple: using UGC without permission can put you on the fast track to an expensive lawsuit. Finally, when you don’t have a Digital Rights Management system, you could find yourself facing the New York Attorney General, like the 19 companies that were recently accused of generating false online reviews for their clients. In short, implementing a Digital Rights Management system can help you to avoid costly lawsuits, protect the image of your band, and encourage customers to comfortably share their UGC materials without worrying that you will exploit their images, videos, or written reviews.

How does digital management work?

StoryBox provides scalable and effective digital management solutions to help your brand effectively connect with fans. Through these customized solutions, your brand can remain protected while you engage with fans and receive authorization to use their user-generated content, images, and videos. The team at StoryBox is dedicated to helping brands request the rights needed to amplify the use and reach of user-generated content, images, and videos, on your brand’s website, social networks, ads, and other marketing applications.

  • Discover stories.
  • Engage with consumers.
  • Collaborate with brand enthusiasts and supporters.
  • Clear your rights before your fans start uploading user-generated content images.
  • Receive analytics to further enhance the results of your campaigns.

StoryBox can help your brand with its digital rights management. Through the StoryBox platform, fans will be able to authorize the use of their photos or videos directly from their smartphones. A direct request will be sent to the fans; when they upload their photos or videos with the appropriate hashtag, they directly authorize the use of their content. Websites or landing pages can be used to gain the correct permissions from fans. StoryBox can also aid in your brand’s digital rights management by requiring customers to visit a landing page with complete terms and conditions to provide the necessary rights approval.

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