Digital asset

A digital asset in essence is anything that exists in a binary format and comes with the right to use. Files that do not possess the aforementioned right are not considered assets. Digital assets are classified as images, multimedia and textual content files.[1]

The term "digital asset" refers, but is not exclusive to, files, including but not exclusive to: digital documents, audible content, motion picture, and other relevant digital files that are currently in circulation or are to, or will be; stored on digital appliances, including, but not exclusive to, personal computers, laptops, portable media players, tablets, storage devices, telecommunication devices, and any and all apparatuses which are in existence or are to, or will be once technology progresses to accommodate for the conception of new modalities which would be able to carry digital assets; notwithstanding the proprietorship of the physical device onto which the digital asset is located.[2]


Types of digital assets include, but are not exclusive to: photography, logos, illustrations, animations, audiovisual media, presentations, spreadsheets, word documents, electronic mails, and a multitude of other digital formats and their respective metadata. The number of different types of digital assets is exponentially increasing due to the rising medium of devices that are a conduit for digital media e.g. smartphones. Due to this steadfast growth of software applications and immense diversity of user touchpoints covering a wide span of devices, our view of the total digital assets universe is growing. In Intel's presentation at the company’s "Intel Developer Forum 2013” they named several new types of digital assets including: medical, education, voting, friendships, conversations and reputation amongst others.[3] In March 2015, The Wall Street Journal[4] mentioned digital currencies as a type of digital asset.

Digital asset management system

A digital asset management (DAM) system represents an intertwined structure incorporating both software and hardware and/or other services in order to manage, store, ingest, organise and retrieve digital assets. [5]

Digital asset metadata

Metadata is data about other data. Any structured information whose purpose is to define a specification of any form of data is referred to as metadata.[6] “An item of metadata is a relationship that someone claims to exist between two entities”.[7] “Think of metadata as data which removes from a user (human or machine) the end to have full advance knowledge of the existence or characteristics of things of potential interest in the environment”.[8] At first the term metadata was used for digital data exclusively, but nowadays metadata can apply to physical data as well as digital one. Catalogues, inventories, registers and other similar standardised forms of organising, managing and retrieving resources contain metadata. Metadata can be stored and contained directly within the file it refers to or independently from it with the help of other forms of data management such as a DAM system.

The more metadata is assigned to an asset the easier it gets to categorise it, especially as the amount of information grows. The asset’s value rises the more metadata it has for it becomes more accessible, easier to manage and more complex.[9]


The majority of digital assets possess monetary and/or sentimental value. Since digital assets represent the goods sold by an organisation or they are in themselves among the goods being sold, their value usually increases according to their usage. Digital assets can be reused as is or with minor modification.[10]


There are quite a few issues encompassing digital assets. Due to lack of guidance by the law there is a limited control over them, most of the control surrounding access and transferability of digital assets is being maintained by individual companies. Some issues stemming from this are what is to become of the assets once their owner is deceased as well as can, and if so, how may they be inherited. Recent news on this subject was a bogus story about Bruce Willis allegedly looking to sue Apple as the end user agreement prevented him from bequeathing his iTunes collection to his children.[11][12]

See also


  1. van Niekerk, A.J. (2006) The Strategic Management of Media Assets; A Methodological Approach. Allied Academies, New Orleans Congress, 2006
  2. The Elder Law Report, Vol. XXV, Number 1
  3., (2014). What is a digital asset? - CWDN. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2014].
  4. Casey, Michael J. (11 March 2015). "Ex-J.P. Morgan CDS Pioneer Blythe Masters To Head Bitcoin-Related Startup". Markets. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  5. Elizabeth Keathley, (2014) Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order out of Media Chaos.
  6. Zhang, A. and Gourley, D. (2009). Creating digital collections. Oxford: Chandos Pub.
  7. Rust, G. and Bide, M. (2003) The <indecs> metadata framework - principles, model and data dictionary.
  8. Dempsey, L. (2006) Registries: the intelligence in the network. Post to Dempsey, L.’s blog, available at
  9., (2014). Metadata for Digital Asset Management - [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2014].
  10. Digital Asset Management Software and Premedia Services | Widen, (2014). Learn what a digital asset is - Widen. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Oct. 2014].
  11. James, W. (2014). Digital Assets; a legal minefield Notes for STEP Verein & Basel Conference, in Zürich – 2nd October 2014. [online] STEP. Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2014].
  12. Arthur, C. (2012). No, Bruce Willis isn't suing Apple over iTunes. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2014].
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