The client wants my artwork files, Help!


N

Nicola

New Member
#1
Hello,

I'd like to know my rights when it comes to having to give up my artwork files. The client is a local council who I've done a lot of work for over the past 10 years, and they would be one of my major clients. They've just hired an in-house designer who contacted me today for my original artwork files for a project so he can make some client changes. I'm on the preferred suppliers list and I think it mentions that all artwork belongs to the Council, but a lot of design work was done long before I was on the list and my quotes all stipulate that the artwork remains my property unless a fee is negotiated for the cost.

Do I have any right to keep my files?

Thanks
Nicola
 
Levi

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
#2
I'll be honest I haven't had much experience of preferred supplier status with a local council but IMO, without knowing all the T&C's involved, artwork does not mean the files you use to create said artwork. I know a couple of others on the forum have more experience working with councils who might be able to help a bit better.

To me artwork is not the working files, it's the files you supply to the client when you're done. If you take my work, which is 3D design, I supply my clients with a video or imagery etc but I don't supply them the working files unless it's part of the contract or it's bought from me at a latter stage (in T&C's). That video or imagery is the artwork that the client is paying for and in my case they can use it however they want and imo this is the same as what you agreed to with preferred suppliers list.

Note: Just had a thought I may have a different interpretation of the term artwork due to being 3D orientated not graphic design orientated...
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#3
When you were put on the "preferred suppliers list" did you sign a contract to hand over the files?

Even if you did then all work prior to this isn't covered by that (unless stipulated in some form of agreement) and you should get an additional fee, if you wanted to give them that is.

By handing your files over for an in-houser to change, then that's just taking money out of your pocket.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#4
In my experience, councils tend to be nightmare clients.

Design by committee and they want everything their way and by their rules.
 
N

Nicola

New Member
#5
Hi there, I don't have the contract to hand. But it says something about all design work being property of the council and files are to be handed to them at the end of the project. Isn't there laws against this?! Some jobs are quoted for through their framework which is online and other jobs I quote for using my letterhead and my T&Cs which say that all artwork (meaning working files) remains property of me unless a cost has been agreed upon.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#7
I think you're best having a look at the contract and see what you've signed as I'm not sure if that would over ride your T&C's or the other way around?
If they contradict each other then it would be a bit of a grey area.

I think it boils down to the wording of the contact and when you signed it as to affect or not and work produced prior to that.
I doubt it would cover anything retrospectively.

I know that if you're an employee then they have the rights to everything you do but you're a contractor.

When I was an employee at a company they wanted re-issue my contract after six years and the rights and inventions clause gave them the rights to everything I made at the company or otherwise.
Basically, they owned my ass.

I told them to shove it up theirs. :D

You'd be spot on there. They are a nightmare. Don't pay on time either.
I've felt your pain.
They're all the same and it's no wonder everyone moans about them. :(
 
N

Nicola

New Member
#8
I think you're best having a look at the contract and see what you've signed as I'm not sure if that would over ride your T&C's or the other way around?
If they contradict each other then it would be a bit of a grey area.

I think it boils down to the wording of the contact and when you signed it as to affect or not and work produced prior to that.
I doubt it would cover anything retrospectively.

I know that if you're an employee then they have the rights to everything you do but you're a contractor.

When I was an employee at a company they wanted re-issue my contract after six years and the rights and inventions clause gave them the rights to everything I made at the company or otherwise.
Basically, they owned my ass.

I told them to shove it up theirs. :D



I've felt your pain.
They're all the same and it's no wonder everyone moans about them. :(


I actually checked the agreement, it says a lot about how they award their projects and not much about ownership of original artwork files. Just so annoying that this in-house designer rang me this morning to announce that he's there now and he's going to be doing my work from now on...good luck. I'd rather be answering phones somewhere that let them take my design work for nothing! But thanks for your help, I really appreciate your thoughts.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#9
That is SO SHITTY! :(

And they just expected to replace you and you hand over all your files?

Dream on. I hope they have a great time recreating them.
 
Paul Murray

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
#10
I actually checked the agreement, it says a lot about how they award their projects and not much about ownership of original artwork files. Just so annoying that this in-house designer rang me this morning to announce that he's there now and he's going to be doing my work from now on...good luck. I'd rather be answering phones somewhere that let them take my design work for nothing! But thanks for your help, I really appreciate your thoughts.
I generally don't like to burn bridges with clients, but if there's no mention of hand over of working files in the contract and they're replacing you anyway, just keep hold of them. Keep it polite, say that the agreement was only for final artwork, not raw files and charge them a release for those as per your own terms.
 
N

Nicola

New Member
#11
I generally don't like to burn bridges with clients, but if there's no mention of hand over of working files in the contract and they're replacing you anyway, just keep hold of them. Keep it polite, say that the agreement was only for final artwork, not raw files and charge them a release for those as per your own terms.
You're absolutely right. I should just be polite and try not to burn bridges. What I might do is give them the PDF artwork file for the two simple leaflets they're asking for out of goodwill, but let them know I'm under no obligation to release raw files to them. Thanks.
 
hankscorpio

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
#13
Personally, I've never had issues handing over artwork, especially if the relationship has been good and fruitful for both parties.

The fact of the matter is that they won't be using you anymore, so sticking your heels in on artwork files isn't going to get you anywhere and they'll less likely use you again if that person doesn't work out in that role.

I am an easy pleaser though - and rather not have the conflict. I often package up files and send on to clients who request them.
Usually they come back within a few months and rehire.

I don't see any value in diluting a relationshop over artwork files, I just send them on.

Typically, if it's not in the contract and the relationship was bad with the client, then I would dig the heels in. But if it's a good relationship then I just send on regardless of the contract obligations.


But it's a good idea to build in artwork release fees and include that the only files to return are screen and print ready pdfs.
 
N

Nicola

New Member
#14
Personally, I've never had issues handing over artwork, especially if the relationship has been good and fruitful for both parties.

The fact of the matter is that they won't be using you anymore, so sticking your heels in on artwork files isn't going to get you anywhere and they'll less likely use you again if that person doesn't work out in that role.

I am an easy pleaser though - and rather not have the conflict. I often package up files and send on to clients who request them.
Usually they come back within a few months and rehire.

I don't see any value in diluting a relationshop over artwork files, I just send them on.

Typically, if it's not in the contract and the relationship was bad with the client, then I would dig the heels in. But if it's a good relationship then I just send on regardless of the contract obligations.


But it's a good idea to build in artwork release fees and include that the only files to return are screen and print ready pdfs.
Yes I get that. Some clients I'm happier to release files. Usually clients that I don't hear a lot from so it doesn't really affect my bottom line. I have a problem handing over the raw files for projects worth thousands of pounds though, especially if they're a going to use a cheaper designer instead.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I don't usually have issue handing over files or the rights (if applicable) to the client.

...but if one approached me and said "We're no longer using you but we'd like you to give us all the files to make it easier and cheaper for your replacement to use" then I'd think again.
 
hankscorpio

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
#16
Yes I get that. Some clients I'm happier to release files. Usually clients that I don't hear a lot from so it doesn't really affect my bottom line. I have a problem handing over the raw files for projects worth thousands of pounds though, especially if they're a going to use a cheaper designer instead.
Your job is gone, they want to use an in-house designer to save money. I'd let it go.

More chance of them coming back to you when it all goes tits up. If you're being difficult, and it doesn't work out for them, they will think twice about approaching you again, where your once good relationship with them is now also gone. Plus, they may want to use you for other projects.

You could approach it as a point like this:


=========

Dear sir/maddam

Our original agreement was to design and supply of PDFs only and I don't usually release artwork unless specifically agreed in the terms of business for an agreed fee. We had no such agreement, but as our relationship was extremely good I am happy to release the files to you for 50% of my normal artwork release fee. I'll be sure to stipulate artwork release fees in future contracts to avoid any delays in the future.

Without the above payment I cannot release the artwork files, and these files wouldn't include any fonts, as they are prohibited from sharing under the EULA and I am legally bound to not share them with anyone else, you must purchase a license to use the fonts in the artwork.

Kind regards,
xxxxx

=========

Then - charge the full 100% release fee, with a 50% reduction added to the invoice (but you still charge the full amount sans discount).

They think they got a deal, you get your money - and both parties are happy.


You can leave out the font license bit if they supplied you with fonts to begin with.
 
N

Nicola

New Member
#17
Your job is gone, they want to use an in-house designer to save money. I'd let it go.

More chance of them coming back to you when it all goes tits up. If you're being difficult, and it doesn't work out for them, they will think twice about approaching you again, where your once good relationship with them is now also gone. Plus, they may want to use you for other projects.

You could approach it as a point like this:


=========

Dear sir/maddam

Our original agreement was to design and supply of PDFs only and I don't usually release artwork unless specifically agreed in the terms of business for an agreed fee. We had no such agreement, but as our relationship was extremely good I am happy to release the files to you for 50% of my normal artwork release fee. I'll be sure to stipulate artwork release fees in future contracts to avoid any delays in the future.

Without the above payment I cannot release the artwork files, and these files wouldn't include any fonts, as they are prohibited from sharing under the EULA and I am legally bound to not share them with anyone else, you must purchase a license to use the fonts in the artwork.

Kind regards,
xxxxx

=========

Then - charge the full 100% release fee, with a 50% reduction added to the invoice (but you still charge the full amount sans discount).

They think they got a deal, you get your money - and both parties are happy.


You can leave out the font license bit if they supplied you with fonts to begin with.
Thanks! I've copied and pasted this into TextEdit for future reference.
 
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