Is it fair for a client to request raw files?

SuziM

New Member
Hello fellow creatives, I’m in need of some good advice. Here’s the story. I run my own small graphic design business from home and a dear client of mine of many years believes I may I’m one day be zapped by aliens and all our years of work will be lost (not his exact words of course). Even after assuring him that I have backups and safety mechanisms in place he still insists on having a backup of his own of everything “Only for safety and security purposes, not for anyone to use”. My alarm bells are ringing a little, but I’m quite certain it comes from a genuine place and only wan’t the files for his security. I’m not sure what the general protocol is for handing over files to existing clients, but either way, I’d still prefer to hand over any raw files only on the closure of our business relationship – whenever that may occur, with a negotiated release fee, but in the meantime, I think the files are my property and should stay with me.

Is this fair? How I do I best put this forward gracefully and without seeming unreasonable? Is there an alternative or compromise?

Your thoughts would be very welcome!
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
Firstly I work primarily with 3D design so am a little different but the principles apply.

Personally my clients don't get raw files unless they've specifically requested them as part of the job and the price reflects this. I specifically state that I don't supply raw files unless requested in my t&c's, and even then if they do get them they may have elements removed. This is partly due to the fact I may be using things in my work that I've purchased for my own use (stock imagery, models, textures, fonts etc) where licensing is non transferable and partly so they can't just 'copy paste' my work. I do have considerations in place for illness/delays etc which may occasionally crop up though.

At the end of the day I have no issue with my clients getting a raw file from me, they just have to pay me accordingly and accept it may not be exactly the same as the finished imagery they received.

I suppose you could raise your concerns (and licensing issues) and offer up a compromise of a passworded zip file with the items inside but you keep the password. If they don't like that then it's most likely they're after using your work to get stuff done cheaper.
 

JeffKo

New Member
The questions isn't really what's fair - which can be a dubious situation. What's on the line is your relationship with your client. As an account manager for a packaging design firm, we've released files to clients and have had them walk away. We've also had them return with updated files.
So bottom line is if there is no specific part of the contract as to who owns the source files, they ultimately belong to the designer. But the designer also has to make a determination based on their relationship with the client that can ultimately have an effect on your overall business.
My philosophy was to release the files and move on to live and fight another day.
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
Problem client - no problem - best of luck - hope I never hear from you again
Friendly client - no problem - best of luck - hope to hear from you again

Problem client ends up being someone else's problem
Friendly client ends up coming back to me cos we have a good relationship.

If they don't they don't. Move on. Plenty of other clients.

I'd rather get rid of problematic clients and retain friendly clients.
 

SuziM

New Member
Firstly I work primarily with 3D design so am a little different but the principles apply.

Personally my clients don't get raw files unless they've specifically requested them as part of the job and the price reflects this. I specifically state that I don't supply raw files unless requested in my t&c's, and even then if they do get them they may have elements removed. This is partly due to the fact I may be using things in my work that I've purchased for my own use (stock imagery, models, textures, fonts etc) where licensing is non transferable and partly so they can't just 'copy paste' my work. I do have considerations in place for illness/delays etc which may occasionally crop up though.

At the end of the day I have no issue with my clients getting a raw file from me, they just have to pay me accordingly and accept it may not be exactly the same as the finished imagery they received.

I suppose you could raise your concerns (and licensing issues) and offer up a compromise of a passworded zip file with the items inside but you keep the password. If they don't like that then it's most likely they're after using your work to get stuff done cheaper.
Thanks so much for taking the time to offer you thoughts, really appreciate it. Straight up, I've never had a contract with this client, we've grown together from small to large – but I think that's a priority to make that happen. Not sure if it's weird to introduce a contract with him at this stage though.
 

SuziM

New Member
The questions isn't really what's fair - which can be a dubious situation. What's on the line is your relationship with your client. As an account manager for a packaging design firm, we've released files to clients and have had them walk away. We've also had them return with updated files.
So bottom line is if there is no specific part of the contract as to who owns the source files, they ultimately belong to the designer. But the designer also has to make a determination based on their relationship with the client that can ultimately have an effect on your overall business.
My philosophy was to release the files and move on to live and fight another day.
I agree. This could very much rock a steady boat. Appreciate your thoughts. :)
 
Top