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Widen Rights Management and Digimarc Asset Tracking

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Creating a better game plan

When it comes to digital asset management (DAM) and rights management, you probably have a game plan. But in today's environment, is it enough?

If your answer is no, or if you’re not sure, you need a better game plan.

Do you track your digital assets today? What about your digital rights? Do you know what happens to your assets once they’re centralized? In addition, do you know what happens to your digital assets after they’re distributed internally and externally?

Too often, valuable assets go to waste, which is detrimental to one’s business — especially if it relates to rights management, security holes and violations.

This is why asset attribution is an imperative component for creative and marketing operations today.

If you’re in marketing, advertising, publishing, or content production, you’re dealing with increasing volumes of visual content that’s amounting at rapid velocities. Because of this, you’re learning about the various approaches and tools that can help you manage things. But how are you thinking about security, rights management and tracking your assets?

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This critical question needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis, so we’ve partnered with Digimarc to provide you with a better game plan that helps you …

  • Understand DAM use
  • Put structure in place
  • Know who has access
  • Track assets in the wild
  • Monitor and report
  • Protect yourselves legally
  • Have confidence
  • Re-apply your learnings

Before we go into more detail, let’s quickly learn about who Digimarc is.

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Digimarc is a pioneer in watermarking technology with 20+ years of experience inserting imperceptible identifiers into numerous forms of media including eBooks, digital images, and consumer packaged goods.

Image asset owners who add a Digimarc ID to their content are able to re-enforce their copyright, allow their images to be “findable” online, and attribute ownership against unauthorized use.

As you can see, when it comes to digital rights management and asset tracking — they really know their stuff!

What is digital watermarking

In a nutshell, Digimarc ID’s are inserted at the pixel level, making the watermark part of the file itself. Unlike other watermark or DRM solutions, a Digimarc watermark does not rely on metadata tags which can be easily removed. Stripping a Digimarc ID can only be accomplished by drastically altering or destroying the image. This ensures assets with Digimarc IDs will always be attributable to its original owner.

What is Digital Watermarking.png

The primary “payload” of the watermarks is a Digimarc ID. In addition to the primary ID, Digimarc also provides options for additional tags depending on use case. Widely adopted across our client base are Image ID’s. This secondary ID is writable on the customer end, and can be used to track distribution outlets and individual end users. With the use of Image ID’s customers have the added benefit of being able to track where leaks may be coming from.

Additional image information tags include copyright year, do not copy, restricted use, and adult content.

Digital watermarking and workflow

Embedding a watermark is usually done after the image editing process is complete, images are scaled, compressed, and down to their final web-posting size. Remember, any image editing, scaling, or compression that happens after a watermark is inserted will begin to deteriorate the payload, weakening its overall life expectancy out in the wild.

Invisible watermarks in images can be verified using one of our watermark readers, the most popular of these is included as part of our Photoshop Plug In.

Embed images then flow through your normal post production workflow, before finally making it online, which means there’s low impact on your current workflow.

Digital Watermark & Rights Management Workflow.png

How does it work?
From a global view, digital watermarking works like this:


  • Photoshop
  • Batch embedder
  • Scripted embedder
  • SDK embedder
  • Integration with a DAM system


  • Orbit search: a wide crawl which scans 12-14 million domains monthly
  • Deep scan: aimed at monitoring regular offenders
  • Directed search: a customizable search method that looks at sites of interest as specified by customers


  • On-demand reporting via Digimarc portal
  • White listing of authorized sites

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Rights management in DAM: a better game plan

Let’s take a quick look at the Rights Management protocols in the Widen Collective.

The security controls in DAM begin with your Governance model, which is one of the core foundations to DAM.

DAM Software Roles & Permissions.png

Roles and Permissions determine the level of interaction between asset groups and user roles. Permissions determine a user’s level of interaction with assets in the DAM system, including whether or not users can view, download or share assets at different points of the lifecycle.

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Metadata fields organize descriptions of rights information. When it comes to metadata, it’s important to devote at least one field to rights management — and it should be a required field. Example field names include: Usage, Source, and Copyright.

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Now onto a few other specialized functions, starting with watermarks.

Digital watermarking visually — or electronically — identifies an asset’s owner.

Visible watermark
On previews and/or converted assets. The original, hosted file is not watermarked, but it prevents screenshotting or saving previews.

This invisible watermark is added to converted and downloaded files and stays with the asset. If a watermarked asset is found online, Digimarc will create a report identifying the website(s) the asset is on.

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Attached documents connect important usage information to an asset. These are great for model and talent releases, and anything else you want to keep with the asset.

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Pre-DAM approval (Workflow) with online proofing tools features review and approval functions that help ensure ONLY approved content ends up in a distribute-able state within your DAM system.

Workflow tools manage work-in-process on through to ready-to-use assets.

Be sure to consider rights management in this work-in-process to the finalized asset handoff — and include the appropriate rights and approval info as metadata.

Download Approval Digital Rights Management.png

Download approval is one of the most foolproof methods to protecting your assets and ensuring you know who is accessing what content. This level of control allows you to deny access when necessary.

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Intended use tracking makes it possible for you to collect intended use within the site, on collections, portals, or on order pickup pages.

Collecting intended use and email addresses allows you to see assets that are downloaded and shared — and provides visibility into how those assets are being used (who is downloading and sharing them and for what purpose). Then you can contact the user(s) if you need to. Although this doesn’t prevent any misuse, it may allow you to catch misuse as well as report on the performance trends with Widen Insights.

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End User License Agreements (EULA) are another important protocol to protect yourselves legally.

EULAs can be used in these areas:

1) After first log in

2) When users download or share assets

And prompted...

3) Before people without accounts download or share assets from the external pages or collections

Each EULA location can contain unique text that can be crafted for the user role or asset group.

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FADEL Rights Cloud®, is a specialized rights management solution that “sits” on top of these DAM functions. And they can play a key role in your DAM Security game plan.This includes another one of our partners, FADEL, who’s software integrates with our DAM system to track and monitor licensing and distribution rights for music, images, videos and apps on specific devices.

The database supports all the rights related to a specific piece of content and, can shut down a campaign that reaches its distribution, or royalty limit, by tracking use of an asset based on where and how it's used.

Rights management recap …

The mix of these solutions helps organizations increase efficiencies and optimize content reuse (in a controlled way) across all channels.

As a visual recap, here’s a graphical overview of all the rights management functions.

Digital Rights Management Functions.png

Simple steps to better rights management and DAM security

Now that we’ve covered some of the nuts and bolts of rights management, let’s examine a simple process you can begin to follow …

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  1. Gain buy-in: identify key benefits (protect against litigation, increase data about usage, increase brand control), and then determine key decision makers and teams impacted.
  2. Group your affected assets: Grouping is the first step to managing. You can group with a collection and check in on activity, or you can group with asset groups to better control access. You can even group them conceptually.
  3. Choose appropriate methods and protocols: Like those we discussed for your digital asset management security functions.
  4. Configure your DAM: Do it right the first time, but know your dam system should be flexible to adjust as you evolve.
  5. Communicate changes: Tried and true communication methods: in-app / systems messages (by each unique user role), emails, newsletters, in-person trainings, etc.
  6. Document decisions: Have a governance doc, which is a set of guidelines and processes designed to guide, direct, and control how to manage your DAM. We like to say you’ve got to “own your governance doc …”

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We hope this article has shed some light on digital rights management, watermarking and asset tracking.

For more info

If you have questions about digital asset management, rights management, or anything else DAM related, feel free to get in touch with us anytime — we’re always happy to help!

Topics: DAM

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