2 March 2021

Top Tips for Using Your Digital Assets to Support Your Strategy

By Debbie McDonnell, Senior Consultant

Blossoms by Ruben Holthuijsen, licensed under CC-BY, Flickr.com

I recently enjoyed delivering a talk on how to use digital assets to support your strategy back in October 2020 as part of the #HeritageDigitalNow sessions provided by Heritage Digital, a project funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund. If you missed it, a recording of the session is available on the Heritage Digital website, to view it click here.

There are plenty of inspiring and innovative examples to explore how to make digital assets support a cultural heritage organisation’s digital strategy. English Heritage created a livestream of Stonehenge for visitors to get a virtual experience of the beauty of the site. The National Trust social media campaign encouraged the public to share images of spring blossoms on Twitter and Instagram and had 10,000 posts and 4 million views in first few weeks.[i] Birmingham Museums Trust provide images of works in their collection under a public domain dedication to encourage reuse and support their strategy to grow and diversify their audiences.[ii]

Digital assets can be images, video, music, sound, text and they are all protected by copyright. However, before you can start using digital assets to support your strategy, you need to secure the rights to use them. Securing the rights takes many different forms depending who created the works in the first place.

  • Created by staff? Relax, an organisation automatically owns the copyright to any digital assets created by staff in the course of their duties, unless otherwise agreed in the employment contract.
  • Created by volunteers? This is more tricky. Copyright will belong to the volunteer and your organisation will need to own the copyright or have a licence to use the digital assets. You will need a deed of assignment to own the copyright. We have more guidance about volunteers and copyright, as well as a free to use template deed of assignment available on our resources page for free, click here to view it.
  • Created by donors or artists? Copyright will continue to be owned by the rights holder, even if the work is in your collection. You will need an assignment or a licence to use either the digital assets or a digital image of the original work. We have more guidance and a free to use template copyright agreement available on our resources page, click here to view it.
  • Created by a supplier, freelancer or other type of contractor? You will need to include an assignment or licence in the contract to own the rights or have permission to use the work they create for you. Naomi Korn hosted a free webinar, ‘Copyright and Suppliers: How to get the rights you need in new digital content’, as part of Heritage Digital where she discussed how to secure rights from suppliers, you can watch a recording of this webinar on our resources page by clicking here.
  • Created by the public? Where the public is providing digital content through your website or an online competition, make sure you have terms and conditions granting you a licence to use any content they upload.

You will need to decide how you want to use the digital assets and ways to make them available. It helps to have a clear idea of your objectives before securing rights to the digital assets so you are asking for the right permissions or type of licence from the start.

If you need guidance or advice on managing your digital assets effectively, our expert consultants can help. Get in touch via our Consultancy page by clicking here.

[i] https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/press-release/national-trust-launches-blossomwatch-to-emulate-japans-hanami-

[ii] https://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/collection

© Naomi Korn Associates, 2021. Some Rights Reserved. The text is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)

Disclaimer: The material in this blog post is for general information only and is not legal advice. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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