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    Discussion & Advice: Giving clients Native Work Files


    Hi there,

    I recently acquired a new client. This client I used to know when I was a kid actually, we went to grade school together. Now, he runs his own marketing/ad firm. Anyways, I'm currently working on my second project for him. The first was a small ad for like 50 bucks. This second project is for a website that will have approximately 15-20 pages at the most.

    Now, I have made the mistake on not pulling up a contract. All future projects we have decided, will have contracts in place. So please don't hound me on that! I realize my mistake.

    After meeting w/ him yesterday to show him some web design concepts for his client, we got into a friendly, yet heated discussion. He wanted my native photoshop files. Stating that if he had to make a small change, he could just do it easily instead of calling me up. Also stating that he's paying me to do this project, and that should include all files necessary.

    Have any of you ever had a client ask for the native photoshop files for a project before? Whether it be a website interface design concept, an ad, or even a FLASH file. Anything native that shows your creative work?

    I wasn't comfortable with giving him these files. This is my work! It's like my trade secrets in there. My secret recipes! So we argued this for some time. He feels that he is paying me and so deserves to get all files associated with the project, and of course I disagreed with him. I feel that I own the copyright on this work. I said, you are paying me to design the website, and to sign off on one design. The design you sign off with is yours, and you may keep a flattened JPEG of the design. Again, I will be doing all the work here. He may do some moderate stuff in dreamweaver, but for the most part, it's all me.

    I realize that I can protect myself in a contract. Although it may be hard for me to negotiate a contract if he wants those layered photoshop files. If my client wants them, I feel he should be charged extra. I also mentioned to him, that if he wasn't contracting me out - if I was an employee of his firm, then it would be a different story, he would own the rights to my work in that case - I think...but since I am a freelancer, the work is mine.

    What are all your thoughts on this? Does anyone have any documents or articles that would support either side? Is this something that could go back and forth? Am I wrong? Is he? Please, lets discuss!

    Thanks!

    Valerie
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    I don't think 'right' and 'wrong' really apply here. It seems to me if you want to get any further work from this source you'll give the client what he wants. You might be able to flatten some of those layers before you hand over the goodies though...

    wdn2k
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    I say, keep the files. He has no right to them. When you purchase a CD or DVD, do you get the master engineered copies? He is purchasing a product off you, therefore he is paying for the final product, not its "recipe". Granted, it is a custom product that will require changes and tweaks until he decides he likes; however, it is still your work and your product that you are selling to him.

    If he doesn't like that, tell him to purchase the product off somebody else.
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  7. toaster pastry
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    When clients ask for native files it really depends on the situation. I'll start off by saying that NOBODY ever gets the origional file off of me. I will flatten certain layers down such as shadings, overlays etc, while still making it fully editable. If you flatten properly, they cannot complain (they will not even know if you did in the first place, most likely). There is still a decent degree of control for them like manipulating layouts, colors, etc.. but they'll never get the main copy because they DONT need it. I also, never hand out any native file until I recieve full payment and in some cases based on the client's attitude, they will get no psd's.

    A complex master copy is damn hard to refute in court.

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