It seems that lately clients have been requesting original working documents more frequently. This usually includes inDesign files, unflattened photoshop documents etc. I have always been of the opinion that the client is paying for finished files only, and that we preserve the rights to the original working art files, but clients often cite corporate legal requirements for ‘needing’ them. What do you do when faced with these uncomfortable requests?
I have always given the files to the client. They usually fall into one of three groups.
1. The client wants to have the originals for backup purposes.
2. The client intends to make changes/updates in-house to save costs. These clients usually come back because they lack the software skills they need.
3. The client wants to use another designer/company. In this case I cheerfully give them their files and wish them the best of luck. Then I have room for new clients!!
What to do.
Some of you may bristle with this advice, but take a moment to digest :
1) Do not become overtly involved with clients on a personal level.
Friendly; yes. Best friends; no. When that happens, someone will take advantage of the situation and it will NOT be you.
2) Do not put your efforts (or your trust) in Contracts, the Legal System, Lawyers. All a waste of your time and money that will inevitably, line others’ pockets with YOUR cash.
Instead, be upfront with your expectations when pursuing a project. Get money upfront and balance upon delivery. If you cannot get the final payment when you finalize the job, do NOT release the files/art! (You’re not in this business to be your client’s accountant, banker or Private Equity Investor, are you?). STAND YOUR GROUND. If you lose the client over this, trust me, it will be the best thing that has happened.
3) Be clear (when you start a job and when you invoice the job) as to the Terms and Conditions of “what” the client is getting/paying for and “what” you are delivering.
What do you do in such situations?