ASSET MANAGEMENT: LICENSING, OWNERSHIP, AND OTHER ISSUES INVOLVING DIGITAL ASSETS
Defining and researching the rights status of a given asset will ideally by done by the person immediately responsible for the collection or set of documents involved. For example, photos taken on company time using company resources may belong to the institution rather than to the photographer. This and other ownership issues should be addressed early in the planning process.
Licensing is the process whereby the owner of an asset allows use of it for a stated purpose. A license can be for one-time use, multiple uses, or unlimited use. Fees are calculated based on the intended use (research, education, commercial, etc.) and on the nature of the assets involved. It must be spelled out clearly as to which assets are open source, and which involve a fee. Institutional policies may already exist and should be consistent with any decisions made regarding rights to or licensing of assets.
This can be done with a simple multi-tiered classification system. For instance, first tier could include existing images and documents related to an institution’s history, staff, and current activities. These would be open access, available to anyone for any purpose. Second tier or mid-level assets could be those that will be of most interest to researchers, students and teachers, and may require a small fee. And the third level, to which fee-based licensing would be attached, would include those digital assets most likely to have commercial potential. Fees or royalties gained through the use of digital assets should go to the department or collection from which the assets were derived.