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Copyright & Ownership

Until about a year ago, I had a fairly sizeable client in the retail industry for whom I was doing design and artwork. Their marketing department took on the services of a local agency and from that moment on I was out of the loop. However, they now want me back on board as the service they are getting from said agency isn't to the standard they used to get from me.

They want a setup working on the basis that the retained agency would do the initial concept work and create final designs, and then the nitty gritty bits of handling the various adaptations containing their creative (posters to different sizes, leaflets, web imagery etc) would be done by me as I was better geared up for doing the hard and fast turnaround stuff.

However, the agency have said to the client that they are not obliged to supply me with the creative for me to work on. The client has paid for the design work to be done and all the invoices have been settled. However the agency remains insistant that they retain ownership of all the creative and relevant files and will not release them.

Is this correct or does the fact that the client has paid for them mean that they now have ownership of the work done for them?


Staff member
Depends on the contracts used although I'm pretty sure it's standard practice. Main reason is to 'encourage' clients to come back to you for changes/repeat work etc... thinking about it I actually started doing this type of thing at uni with 'group projects' only giving flattened imagery to those who hadn't contributed lol

Personally I don't pass on my editable files ie 'work' to another person unless it's been specifically requested as part of the contract - ie I'm filling in/covering excess work for a client.

In essence for me it works like this:
  • Anything sent to me from the client remains theirs, including the 'idea', concepts, cad models they've made etc etc.
  • Anything used to create 'imagery' for the client remains mine - ie the files, material applied to models, any models/alterations I've done, graphic work etc
  • 'Imagery' created by me is given to client to use as they see fit etc. I basically give them a 'license' to use produced work as they see fit for marketing etc.

Thinking about it now I may have a little grey area about them sending the 'imagery' to other designers to work on....might need to tweak that a little...