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Advice - Client asking for files (not a case of ownership)

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by SKHdesign, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. SKHdesign

    SKHdesign New Member

    So I have a client of mine, a new client I should add, asking for me to send over my Illustrator files for them to edit and make into another piece of artwork.

    I was slightly weary when I took this client on board as they had been creating their own artwork/labels however they have come to a professional for a reason, right? Anyway, I have created a range of labels for them they're happy with them and are awaiting news from Tesco as to which products out of the range they'd like to take.

    In the meantime, they have asked me for the .ai files which I do not want to give. They haven't paid me yet, I have no qualms that they will pay me when the time comes but at this stage no invoice has been sent as the job is not complete.

    Perhaps this is a lesson learned really, that I should state to all clients when taking on new contracts that the original artwork files stay my property unless they want to pay an extra 'x' amount to gain the usage of these files. Of course I've had this situation in the past few years whilst working for myself, however it's always been a miniscule file/contract compared to the scale of this.

    My question to you is how to answer their request? Bearing in mind I don't want to give them the files....

    and do you have a set document you send out to new clients stating that artwork remains your property etc and that time paid is only for web or print ready files?

    Any help would be great...Thanks!
  2. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    .AI files do not get sent out until payment is received, period. Only files that do get sent before payment are low res, scaled down files so they can view the work. I have never had to explain this to any client, as they already know that this is the normal way for a designer go about business.
    Corrosive and SKHdesign like this.
  3. SKHdesign

    SKHdesign New Member

    Thanks CLHB, I've been reading up this evening about other people's opinions and although the view is somewhat mixed, it seems the majority falls with this!

    I've put the situation back in their court at the moment asking if there is anything I can help them with - they left the last e-mail saying they didn't want to inconvenience me for small things....We'll see what step I need to take after they reply.

    Thanks again!
  4. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Yes, I mean with or without a signed contractual agreement, I have no idea why anyone would want to send off their hard work before they have been paid. It is the last, insurance policy (so to speak) that you have. It takes seconds to make a payment.
  5. SKHdesign

    SKHdesign New Member

    Oh don't worry - I don't send anything final without payment, trust no one and all that jazz! However I've never really had to send what I would call 'significant' native files before and certainly won't without final payment of the job and an extra fee for the files if it does go down that route.

    I do find it extraordinary that people elsewhere seem to think it's a given to send the files - I wish there was a 'by the book' way of doing things so that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet and there is no confusion.
  6. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Offer them the opportunity to buy a bulk of your time to use as and when they need these "little jobs" doing. You could use the argument that paying for a license from adobe will be more expensive for them than paying for your time.

    Alternatively you could simply say no on the grounds that the license you hold for the fonts used in the artwork, forbids distribution and sending the files without the fonts would render the files useless.

    I try to avoid sending original files such as .ai .indd etc.. If a client is asking for them, I point out that they will be unable to open the files unless they have the latest adobe suite which costs £XXXX, that usually stops them asking again.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  7. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    It is interesting peoples views on sending out original files such as .ai etc. Personally once I have been fully paid, I have no problem with sending off any file type they require. They wouldn't be asking for such files if they couldn't open them. I know some people charge extra for original files and I don't quite understand why?
  8. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    I'm with you on this. I understand the worry that providing files will mean a client can forego your services in future, and I'm sure this happens a fair bit, but a lot of time the client is asking for them because someone further down the chain is asking for them (printers, web developers, etc). I provide clients with PSDs for files, particularly web and digital designs because the developer can easily get pixel-perfect measurements, colours, fronts, etc, from the files.

    Also, sometimes with smaller jobs, I find it's easier to just hand over the files and let the client/printer/whoever, do what they need to. Often it's better to send over a packaged InDesign file so that a printer can set up the artwork correctly first-time round. It saves a lot of back and forth between myself, and them/the client and frees me up to work on more productive tasks.

    I agree with what the others say though, don't hand over any raw files until they've paid. With regards to them using the files to create new artwork, it sounds like one of those situations where you're perfectly within your right to refuse, but at the same time the client is probably not aware of the 'damage of what they're asking, and refusal to supply the files could make things awkward between you.

    Make sure you get paid before you do anything, or they could threaten to withhold payment until you do supply the files.
  9. SKHdesign

    SKHdesign New Member

    Just a quick update...

    I had hoped they would reply asking me to carry out the small job for them so I could work around giving them the files. That didn't go to plan....! They asked for files as they didn't want to spend the money on something so small.

    I've had to say that I should have stated in their quote that native files remained my property unless an additional fee was paid, as I didn't state this, I would send the native files F.O.C but only once the full invoice had been settled.

    Lesson learnt! :) Thanks for all the replies.

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