Handing Files over to Clients

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mtngigi
Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 4:02PM

I know this has been discussed ad nauseam - however I don't think this topic can be talked about too much among freelancers.


I'm being asked by a client to hand over a file for an ad I did - this is the first time I've been asked for a file, hence my questions. Of course she doesn't know what she's talking about, because she is asking for a "hard copy for future use". She had mentioned that she might be placing the ad in another publication that I know has different specs that the one I created it for.

So I'm drafting a reply explaining that the hard copy will be of no use to her, but I'm thinking of letting her know I'd be happy to send the high-res PDF file. But how do I handle this? Do you hand over the high-res PDFs at no charge? What about the InDesign file - I don't want to hand over my proprietary files without some compensation, but I'm not sure what to charge.

Just looking for some basic advice about how to respond to this in a professional manner and so that I don't sell myself short. Guess I don't quite understand what "belongs" to the client upon completion of a job. Any advice/help/your own stories would be welcome.(Edited on 2008-11-05 16:02:42 by mtngigi)

(Edited on 2008-11-05 16:03:32 by mtngigi)

(Edited on 2008-11-05 19:13:25 by mtngigi)
signsnow240
Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 5:12PM
At my old firm we would send a merged or rasterized version. Or rasterize the backgropund, convert the fonts to curves/outlines. That way they get the ad they paid for and can use over an over, but changing it for future use is difficult. We would sell them the file for editing for a fee, depending on the work involved in the original design.
Zuki
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Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 5:25PM

I ditto signsnow. I have always provided the final rendering to clients as a service for good relations but often discover that they do not have the capability in-house to edit the file since they don't own most of the pro software we use. Their only option, if given the original files, would be to find another designer down the road which would benefit from your hard work.


It also depends on the type of file. For logos, I provide original EPS files along with other formats needed for future application. This is important because you don't want the client calling you every time they needed to paste their logo into a different format. Complex layouts with multiple elements however are a different story all together. For this you need to keep your original files and provide them with a flattened PDF as signsnow already mentioned.


Back in the days of Stat Cameras and dark rooms, we would burn either Film seps or a stat composite out of the original layout since it was totally impractical to provide the client with paste-ups. Hope this helps.


Edited to fix paragraph breaks which disapeared for some strange reason.

(Edited on 2008-11-05 17:27:23 by Zuki)
mtngigi
Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 7:31PM
Thanks for the advice.

As far as logos go, of course I always give every possible version and then some for that type of thing. This is an ad done in InDesign, using their photos along with some artwork I created.

While I understand that my files are proprietary, what about the client - in the end, what are they entitled to? See, that's what I don't understand - if a client says "I want those files", don't you have to supply them? And if so, how do you go about pricing? They've already paid for your time and expertise ... what do you charge for the files? How do you charge, I mean how do you explain that? I'm not making myself clear, but hopefully you see what I'm getting at?

Yeah ... the paragraph thing was why there were 5 spaces between my paragraphs ... it was weird.

(Edited on 2008-11-05 19:33:40 by mtngigi)
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 8:06PM

this is so tough because usually you (I) don't expect the client to ask for these things. It needs to be in your contract. Depending on the project, I might say something like: provide commercial print ready PDF file (that's with fonts outlined, etc. like George suggests). Native design file(s) available at 3x - again depends on project - original cost. And all this for the same reason as George. They usually won't have a clue what to do with it...and, on the off chance that they have AI or ID, they'll be calling you every ten minutes trying to figure it out. Okay, so that's my sweeping generalization and experience. Obviously not everyone is like that!


On logos, I do give them the file like George. If they are a sophisticated enough client, I will provide AI file, but it's usually just .eps plus several jpg sizes + wmf for Microsoft products.


btw, there have been problems all day with para spacing.





 
Zuki
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Posted Wed Nov 5, 2008 8:24PM

The original files belong to you.  Similar to when a photographer does a shoot, he/she retains the rights to the photos and charges for prints based on size and quantity, designers own all original work unless a client wants to purchase it.  The only thing the client paid you for is a single ad which meets output specs which I am sure you will provide,  anything beyond this is billable.


I know this this is a hard concept for clients to grasp but it's the way it is.  Of course it is totally your prerogative to offer them the original files but you will be doing yourself and the design world a dis-service in the long term. 


The charge varies but a general figure would be 30-50% of the original total quote, although with large corporations the perpetual payoff is much much higher.


Hope this helps.


 
MultiCorp
Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 1:32AM
Zuki is right, designers forget they are creators not simply manufacturers. Clients hire us to provide a service, this is why we charge for our time and not a physical product.

You were hired to design the ad, and you did, they paid for your time, knowledge and talent. The client has the right to be able to print this ad, so give them a press-ready PDF, this concludes your obligation to them.

Make a PDF which is 'dumbed down', outline fonts, flatten transparency. This will give the client exactly what they are paying you for and no more.

Since your are probably using IS images, you can't sell the images to them anyway. The licensed copyright is for yourself you can't re-sell it. Also Font licensing is another copyright which you cannot transfer. Tell your client that because of copyright issues you cannot give them any of the working files.

If they insist, they will have to obtain their own copyright from the photographer/foundry. This will mean they will have to buy the image again and also purchase the font themselves. You own the layout, it's up to you if you want to sell it. But remember the layout has value beyond the time they paid you for. Price it like a logo or corporate ID or the way foundries price fonts or a photographer prices negatives.

We never sell our working files.

(Edited on 2008-11-06 08:49:37 by MultiCorp)
Godsdove
Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 6:08AM
/
/I add into my contracts exactly what files they will receive.


For logos I will give an outlined eps file along with jpg, etc.


For other items, if I am not handling the actual printing, I will give the client a flattened high res PDF of their job.


I have only had one job where they wanted original files. I wrote it into the contract and upped my price.


Edited to add that for the client that wanted original files, I would not include the photo files of any stock images that I used in their job, and I put in the contract that the client would have to actually purchase those photos if they intended to use them in future works as I do not hold the copyright to those images. I then gave them the image numbers so they could find them in the future and purchase.

(Edited on 2008-11-06 06:10:41 by Godsdove)
gariphic
Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 8:45AM
This is a great post, very useful replies. I had a similiar experience where a client wanted working files. At the end of the day it boils down to clear upfront communication. I've learned my lesson, now I spell it out in my contract and there is no confusion. Important points noted about font and image licenses. As designers it is necessary to educate clients. We provide a service. I think the example of a photographer is perfect, the photographer does not hand over original files.
Boggs
Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 9:24AM
What would you suggest to a print shop, the client wants all the original files (most created by us & some supplied by the customer) to take to another printer? Would you charge? how much?
GeoffBlack
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Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 10:50AM

Give the client the pdf.  If they insist they need the native files, start by saying that the licensing agreements for the photos and fonts prohibit you from making copies.  


 
chpdsgnCLOSED
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Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 12:53PM

^^ I manage a printing company, and that's exactly how we do it. We give them pdf's when we can, but depending on the client we will give them native files as well. Since we're really not a design firm per se, we have usually no contract with them for design so as long as they have paid their bill, we will burn a disc (and charge them for it). However we also usually try to steer clear of giving native files because of the legalities of fonts and/or purchased images.

(Edited on 2008-11-06 13:00:33 by chpdsgn)
Zuki
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Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 8:27PM
Posted By Boggs:
What would you suggest to a print shop, the client wants all the original files (most created by us & some supplied by the customer) to take to another printer? Would you charge? how much?


 


I am not a printer but I have worked with printers the last 20 years.  All this depends on who created the original files and who it is that is asking for them. 


If they were created by your in-house designers then the same rule in the discussion applies, the files belong to you and you can sell them for a price. 


If the files were provided by a freelance designer (PDFs) on behalf of a client then those files usually belong to the client and you should provide them if possible although they should be able to get those files from the designer.  Sometimes relationships between designer and client break down and this might be the reason for the request.


If the client is asking for film seps created through your own RIP then it is a matter of what relationship you intend to have with them, obviously if they are asking for film they will be thinking about another printer.  Most printers I have worked with do not turn over film they have created in-house.  The exception to this of course would be if the client or designer provided the film (which is what I have done in the past).


In the case where they are asking for files provided both by you and the client, I would charge them fo the files created in-house and turn over the files provided by them.


Again these are not hard rules but based on my experience.
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 8:41PM
Posted By Zuki: If the files were provided by a freelance designer (PDFs) on behalf of a client then those files usually belong to the client and you should provide them if possible although they should be able to get those files from the designer. Sometimes relationships between designer and client break down and this might be the reason for the request.


-------------------


If your freelance designer is who sent you the business, I would highly recommend calling them and asking first. I once had my printer call me and ask if it was okay. I greatly appreciated the thought.


Zuki
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Posted Thu Nov 6, 2008 8:50PM

dawn,


By files I meant the output PDF.  Sorry I wasn't clear.
Zuki
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Posted Fri Nov 7, 2008 1:45AM
I guess we are talking about two different scenarios. In the past, clients have asked me to forward their print ready PDFs to their own printer once the job is completed and I have been paid in full. In this case (other than original files) the job is out of my hands and the client deals directly with the printer. They don't come back to me unless there are new edits to the originals or they somehow lost or misplaced the output PDF.


In other cases, the scope of the project includes print direction in which I provide the final product and the client never deals with the printer at all thus there is no need for a PDF unless of course somewhere down the road the client wants to take on the printing themselves which they have the right to do so.

(Edited on 2008-11-07 01:48:03 by Zuki)
mtngigi
Posted Fri Nov 7, 2008 10:09AM

Thanks everyone ... the ad I created was sent directly to the graphic designer doing the publication the ad is being placed in. No printers involved here.




I regret to admit this ... but to date I haven't really used contracts. I have one client that I have used a contract with - they are so trustworthy that I don't even worry about them. As I continue to move towards being a better business person in my freelance career (relatively new since being laid off a year and a half ago) I know I need to learn about and use contracts.


Sometimes the jobs happen so fast I just don't think about it. I know I need to get one together - any advice in that regard would be welcome. Do you all use a contract for every little job? Seems like there needs to be different contracts (wording) for different jobs.


This woman called me, asked for my rates - agreed to them and I did the ad for her. Now she is asking for the ad (again, not knowing what she is talking about as she as asked for hard copy). So I guess I'll explain to her that I'm happy to send the PDF, making it as uneditable as possible, and explain that if she wants my files she has to pay for them.


So the question still remains - how do you determine what to charge for your files? This small ad cost her $120 and a few hours of my time ... so I haven't a clue.
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Fri Nov 7, 2008 10:39AM

she might literally want a printed copy for her records. You should clarify before you possibly confuse her more about the pdf file.


And, George, yes, I was referring to handling the printing on behalf of the client - in which case they might not even know who the printer is.
mtngigi
Posted Fri Nov 7, 2008 11:39AM
Posted By pink_cotton_candy:

she might literally want a printed copy for her records. You should clarify before you possibly confuse her more about the pdf file.


No - that's not it.


And I quote "Will I get a hard copy of the ad as well for future use?"
Zuki
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Posted Fri Nov 7, 2008 12:20PM
If she wants a print ready PDF composite then give it to her, she paid you for that much.  She might want to use the ad in a flier or perhaps in another context.  Again, make sure you merge everything and outline all fonts before you submit it.  If istock photos are in the layout, you might want to give her a high resolution rasterised version instead.
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