Big issue of ownership


New Member
I am sure this has happened to many designers in the past but lets see if anyone can come up with a new answer. Basically I have had a client that is a travel company for 10 years now, due to the economic climate they decided to put the work out to tender. They have accepted a lower quote from a new agency to do part of the work, in this case travel brochures. They want to retain me to do the other brochures, as I have all the artwork, files, images etc, however to secure this work they are asking me to had over all the files for the brochures they want the new agency to do in future, they will be doing this work for the same price as I have quoted. I am reluctant to hand over all the files as they wish to keep the same design etc, and are just asking the new agency to do the new version from them for next year...hope this is making sense! If however I refuse to do so I may loose the whole account. They have also asked that in future they hold all the files in their central office. They are saying that they will contractually retain all the rights to all the designs they pay for. There has never been a contract in 10 years...Help! Where do I stand??:icon_scared:
With us our design fees are low in order to attract customers to use our printing services, as a result we would expect to do any future re-prints for said customer. If they were to request the source files at a later date which is usually to have the artwork printed elsewhere then we would charge a release fee (like many other printers), this fee would be fair and dependant on what they initially had designed.

In your case, I suspect you have charged the going rate for your design services. As you know the only reason they are using you for part of this job now is because it is cheaper for them to pay you to amend the current source files than for the other company to re-create them from scratch, once they have these files in their posession I doubt you will hear from them again and pretty sure they will then work with the cheaper company.

It's sad that companies don't seem to have any sense of loyalty nowadays, however, in these times cost is key and everybody is trying to save a few quid!!

You do still have some choices mind....

1) Match the other companies price in order to get the whole order and possible future orders.

2) Hand over the source files, do this part of the job and probably not hear from them in the future.

3) Try and charge a fee to assign copyright to them, again and probably not hear from them in the future.

...if I was your customer and paid you the going rate to create these designs for me I would expect the source files to do with as I please at no extra cost....and this is the service that I have received from many many designers in the past.

Be interested to see what others think though.
Unfortuneatly without a written agreement there isn't much left for you to do, Boss has the options best placed for your situation. I had a similar problem before where I was outsourced work and even though there was a verbal agreement that I was allowed to use the work in my portfolio I didn't have the written agreement that I needed to argue my case so I therefore had to remove it from my portfolio.

I am currently in the process of getting some agreements checked so that I can then have these agreements signed and then give me the proof that is needed for these types of clients... There are quite a fair few small companies that are like this. They get something for next to nothing and expect everything for it.

I agree with Boss that there isn't any loyalty anymore.

Kind regards,
I'm aware of some designers that only issue a license for single use, expressly forbidding anyone else to alter the work. I don't actually think they're a bad idea, though ostensibly I can't see anyone agreeing to it unless your work is very high end.

The intention of course is to stop someone else altering your original work. I don't think many do it though. I tend towards the same as Hogg - initial low cost (though not cheap - buggered if I'm working for £10 an hour), followed by a release fee.

Of course though, I use really obscure design software, so it would be very difficult indeed to take over my work as there would be a pretty steep learning curve..
Sorry, not telling :icon_smile:

I could tell you but then I would have to kill you. It's easy enough to work it out though with a little research.

Seriously though, I use a mix of proprietary software and some open source. I don't use Adobe or Quark software for my own work. I do have both for altering other's work, but I don't use them to originate artwork. I would be a real pain for a designer to take over from me - it just wouldn't be worth the learning curve required for a single job.
I have used it but it's a little clunky. My photo editor of choice is a fork of GIMP though, but from some time back. GIMP is a bit limited really (IIRC 8 bit only, no in built CMYK etc), though it's capable enough if webdesign is your thing.