Digital Rights

Earlier, I wrote about the Virgin Atlantic Red Hot ad, mentioning that it was annoying that there was no embed available for the video. Alison from Virgin came back with this comment

we didn’t have full usage rights for the advert to enable the file to be embedded but this is now resolved.

In this day and age, where the web is such a strong component in word of mouth and influencing, how can this have happened? How can any brand deliver an ad, create some video, take some images without getting the digital rights? This isn’t just a complaint about Virgin, because I’ve seen it in plenty of places but today, there is little excuse. But here’s a couple of reasons why they may not be obtained:

  • Marketers – and lawyers – who do not realise the impact of the online space. They just don’t understand that almost all forms of advertising can have a digital element and forget to include the rights. Why would you want global digital rights for something that is going to be on the TV or just in a national paper? Because you have to assume that everything can be digitised, put on the web and spread around. One solution is to review all your standards and policies and make digital rights mandatory.
  • Cost. Global digital rights, especially perpetual ones, can be expensive, especially if you have a piece of music, which can get pretty ridiculous, or have a piece of someone else’s video. Most rights tend to be time-limited when it comes to traditional advertising which is why you often find that brands never display old campaigns. There’s also the problem for ‘classic’ ads, the web was not around so the rights have to be renegotiated, so it may not be worth the effort and the cost to do so. I had experience, for example trying to put up some of the old Guinness ads. Why do you need perpetual rights? Well, basic web principles, don’t break the web! If you put stuff up, it should stay up. But most brands never play this game, throwing up campaign sites, ‘microsites’ or burying things deep in flash with no permalinks. If you make something you want to be considered as a classic, make sure it can be found.

Any other reasons that you’ve come across?

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