Releasing InDesign files?


bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
We've been working with a client on the branding, design and print for their restaurant for about 12 months now. In that time we've had a very good working relationship with few if any issues.

Last week I submitted a final proof for sign off and was told it was fine but not to go to print as they'd already sorted a printer. Probing further the client said a printer in Leeds who deals with the print for their other business has offered them a deal if they send all of their print to them. I know that this "printer" is actually a mate of the client's who does his design work on the cheap but hey ho.. I don't make any profit on print so it's not like I'm losing out at all. When I asked them to send over the pre-press specs from the printer the reply came "can we have the InDesign files please".


This is the second time in a week where the client has mentioned the InDesign files and whilst I don't have an issue with him printing my work elsewhere, I do feel a little aggrieved that they're blatantly attempting to get their hands on the source files. For the time being I've sent them a press res pdf but I know the request will come again. If I release one file, they will undoubtedly come back for the other work I've produced over the last 12 months (totalling 25-30 documents).

What are peoples opinions? should I let him have the indd files or refuse? On what grounds could I refuse to release them or what charges should I impose to release them?
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
By withholding the files you're risking souring the relationship at this stage, but there's no guarantee that an unscrupulous printer couldn't amend your files for a future client or pass them off as their own work somehow. If you want to keep them, ask the client why they require the working files, but also ask yourself what you stand to gain from retaining them? You could argue that you can't give them the files due to font licensing restrictions or something. In future, maybe price a little percentage extra on top to cover the release of the files on completion if you feel you're losing out.

I pretty much always give the source files away and these clients come back to me again and again, so it's not like I'm shooting myself in the foot or anything. Some clients just like to have editable files or their work, and chances are they're far more likely to need editable versions of designs in the future than you are. I know as a designer it's always handy when my clients can over source files for things that are years old. There are far too many times I've been held up because my client can't get in touch with their previous designer, or said designer no longer has the files. Share the love.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
If it is bothering you, then for that client put it in writing in the contract that you will release the source files for a fixed fee, usually 2 days @ hourly rate is the usual I've seen.
 

bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
I guess it's not so much the letting them have the files I have an issue with. It's more that I know they're taking my work and giving it to someone else to work on, for no apparent reason.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
The printer may just want to create the artwork themselves. I imagine a lot of printers deal with artwork that isn't up to scratch on a regular basis and probably prefer to just handle it themselves. Or the client could just be doing a mate a favour by giving them future work instead of you. But do you really want to be handling fiddly amends that come in once in a while that interrupt what you're doing? I prefer to just get a project handed off so I can focus on the next. Count the pounds, not the pennies if you like.
 

@GCarlD

Well-Known Member
@bigdave I get where you are coming from, it's the principle that bothers you more than anything. Similar to what others have said, if requested, I happily send over source files at no extra cost, I feel my rates already cover this and once the client has paid, I have no problem sending over files in pretty much any format they desire. If they don't request the source files, then I don't send them, as they probably can't open the files anyway. Either way, it doesn't effect the cost.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
I guess it's not so much the letting them have the files I have an issue with. It's more that I know they're taking my work and giving it to someone else to work on, for no apparent reason.
I get where you're coming from.

I always put in a disclaimer that once they receive the files then I no longer have the most up to date version and that any future changes may not reflect changes they have input.

You can add a note to your archives - or save the emails in the archive folder for reference at a later date.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
And this is why I have in my terms and conditions that no 'source' files created by me for client work will be transferred unless stated as part of the contract (anything supplied to me by them is theirs etc blah blah, you get the idea)....which would also incur extra expenses for the client :)

Basically I have no issue with them having the files but I want to be 'compensated for potential lost earnings' because they can use my files for later work with another person etc which could also affect me by them becoming a competitor.....
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Bottom line is that anyone can steal your work. If you send them a PDF they might be able to open that InDeisgn with PDF2ID plugin.

They might send your low res proof to a printers and you never hear from them again.


You might want to charge them for the files - or you may not. It depends on your relationship with the client.

Someone who is a bit frosty and nasty you may want to charge them a small sum, or more than you usually charge. However, you may have clients that you have open fun relationships with that you don't mind sending them artwork files.


It is of utmost importance to stipulate this in the contract from the beginning whether artwork files are included in the price, or not included, and if there's additional fees around this.


If the client wants the files, you can point to the contract and say - it's XX amount to release artwork files as per our agreement. Then it's up to them to pay or not to pay.


I don't think it's a good idea to charge for artwork files, so I don't charge for it.
 

bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
I've got to the bottom of it...

They've decided that the 630x210 trifold I've designed is too expensive to print (£215) but instead of having a conversation with me about it, the print firm he uses for his other business has told him he should have an A4 menu and they'll print it for peanuts. To sweeten the deal, rather than charge him to design it, they'll take the existing indesign files and "jiggle things about" to fit an A4 sheet.

I'm pretty p*ssed about it to be honest.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Yeh - I'd rather people just be honest about why they want files.

Again, if you do send them the files, make sure to put a disclaimer that you're not responsible for any iterations of the design or print quality.
 
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