Chute is a startup aiming to become a “complete visual platform” for brands and publishers, initially by helping customers collect and publish user images and videos. Today it’s taking an important step in that direction by adding tools for companies to actually get user permission to republish their content.
There are companies, including Chute’s customers, who were already taking advantage of user generated content — one common approach is to ask users to share photos using a certain hashtag, and to treat the inclusion of that hashtag as “implied consent”. But co-founder and CEO Ranvir Gujral told me that as “bigger and bigger brands” want to use this content, and as they start using it in more commercial ways (such as incorporating them into ads powered by Chute), they’re also taking a “more conservative” approach to these issues.
Gujral and his co-founder Gregarious Narain gave me a quick demo of the new permissions system. They emphasized that they’re allowing companies to be as loose or as conservative an approach to rights as they want. So as customers look at content posted to Instagram and Twitter, one might just tweet a personalized message at a photographer, asking them to use a certain hashtag to signal their permissions. Other customers might ask fans to actually click through online forms that spell out the rights that they’re giving the company, or to upload their photos and videos directly to the businesses’ website.
One reason to include a number of different options, Gujral said, is because “there’s not a ton of legal precedent” — if a company requires fans to do more work, they may be more legally secure, but they’re also less likely to actually get permission. beyond the legal requirements, Gujral argued that connecting with consumers in this way can be a good way for brands to engage with their fans.
Percolate is another company that recently added features in this area. It’s not a direct competitor to Chute (it’s more focused on helping companies find content worth sharing on social media), but it’s worth noting that Percolate basically offers one approach to obtaining permission, in contrast to Chute’s wider range.
Chute connects these rights management tools to a customizable workflow, which allows customers to determine exactly when different teams and team members should be brought into the approval process. And it also offers analytics, so that customers can see whether their requests are actually working. Some of the early users of the product (a group that includes Benefit Cosmetics) have seen response rates of more than 80 percent.
Chute Rights will be offered as an add-on to the basic Chute subscription, Gujral said.