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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Art & Graphic Design > Releasing layered Photoshop files to clients

Releasing layered Photoshop files to clients (Page 2)
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Sep 16, 2005, 07:16 PM
 
I think a better analogy is expecting apple to give you the blueprints, and the parts, to the ipod when you buy it. Then you could just give those blueprints to whatever cheap PC maker you want. Sure it might not be as good as Apple would do it, but hey, free market.
     
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Sep 16, 2005, 07:27 PM
 
no no no no no dammit! </hissyfit>

you aren't paying apple to develop the iPod, and before you bring up HP, HP isn't paying apple to make the iPod either, they're licensing the technology. Neither of which is the case with clients and designers. Clients aren't purchasing your design from you (unless you work for templatemonster.com or something) and neither are they paying you to license the design from you, they're paying you to make their product.
     
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Sep 20, 2005, 02:35 PM
 
I have had this experience too. Very dificult, however if you didn't sign a work for hire agreement, they can't force you, nor are you obligated to give them the layered file.

However, if this clients business looks promising, like it is going to be around for a while:
1. You should never have given them a discount... think about it, you are saying, "I am willing to take a hit to my business so that your successful business can do even better on my account."

2. Next time (yeah... you really need to man up here and treat this expense as "Paid for the lesson in communications) you need to make ABSOLUTELY clear what they are paying for. Don't give them any room.

3. If you having the byline is in your contract (where is should be) by law, they must have it there. If they have another designer "fix" the piece, you have the right to take the client and the designer to court. Its all in the writing baby

R
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Sep 20, 2005, 08:47 PM
 
SWG -

The client is buying the final output, not the files used to create that.

For them to expect the layered PSDs, AIs, fonts or any other files is about like going to a car dealership and saying, "Sure, I'll buy this car, but I want the detailed plans from the factory, the formulation of the paint and some free unpainted panels, just in case I wreck it."
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Sep 25, 2005, 11:03 PM
 
Solution is simple. Your invoice was labelled Single Use. They are going to take your files and run. This sounds like the type of client you don't want anyway. I never discount my work unless they are buying print ads, a website and other products at the same time.
     
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Sep 26, 2005, 07:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by davesimondotcom
SWG -

The client is buying the final output, not the files used to create that.

For them to expect the layered PSDs, AIs, fonts or any other files is about like going to a car dealership and saying, "Sure, I'll buy this car, but I want the detailed plans from the factory, the formulation of the paint and some free unpainted panels, just in case I wreck it."
No, please see previous iPod analogy.


Why are you guys so hung up on if your client gets your PSDs or not? What else are you gonna do with em?
     
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Sep 29, 2005, 07:43 PM
 
I have 16 years in the business... 10 years with my own company.


Unless you work for a company, or have signed some contract to the contrary, never give your PSDs. I own all of my employees PSD files, but that is known to them ahead of time, and is to be expected.

We have all cultivated our skills through years of trial and error. We have learned exactly which layer effects, masking techniques, and blending modes we need to use to get the desired effect. Our wealth of knowledge is what makes us valuable. More specifically, our wealth of knowledge, compared to other designers, is what makes us valuable. If you hand over your PSDs, they can learn in minutes what took you years.

I know these analogies are getting tired, but here is one more.

If someone were to commission a painting, it would not entitle them to an explanation of how you created the effects. Just because we work in a digital medium, doesn't change this. Our layers, just like layers of paint, are our own business. All the client gets is the painting.

Besides all of this, this is and has been standard industry practice established by us to protect us and the field.

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Oct 1, 2005, 11:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
No, please see previous iPod analogy.


Why are you guys so hung up on if your client gets your PSDs or not? What else are you gonna do with em?
It's not what we're going to do with them, but what they're going to do with them, like give them to the guy who underbid you, so he can dissect them & learn how you use Photoshop in the creation of your design.

My processes are proprietary. I have ex-clients call me occasionally and say things like "We went with a cheaper printer, but our CMYK print looks horrible-- how do you adjust for dot gain in Photoshop?"

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
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Oct 1, 2005, 11:44 AM
 
You guys really just need better clients. I mean, if the most important reason why you won't give up your psd's is because you're afraid your client is going to try and learn photoshop to recreate em? Seriously. Its not your 'wealth of knowledge of photoshop' that makes you valuable, its your creativity. Any monkey can learn photoshop layer effects.
( Last edited by godzookie2k; Oct 1, 2005 at 11:45 AM. Reason: grammar)
     
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Oct 1, 2005, 06:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
You guys really just need better clients. I mean, if the most important reason why you won't give up your psd's is because you're afraid your client is going to try and learn photoshop to recreate em? Seriously. Its not your 'wealth of knowledge of photoshop' that makes you valuable, its your creativity. Any monkey can learn photoshop layer effects.
You got that right, we could all use better clients.

But the only time when you can legally give away or sell you original files is when everything within it belongs to you. If you are using fonts you didn't create (and the text needs to be editable), they will need to buy a license to use those fonts. If you have third part illustrations/photography included, the owner of that work will have to settle on terms with your client. Otherwise, I guess you are free to give out the original files. Personally, I don't do it.
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Oct 1, 2005, 06:33 PM
 
hey I said its fine to give away your source files (web developers and designers do it all the time, remember?) but you don't have to make it easy if you don't want to. If they want to publish works with materials they don't own or didn't license, thats their problem, not yours.
     
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Oct 2, 2005, 09:12 AM
 
OK... I've been following this string for quite a while and here's my thoughts:

1. If you've have a good,solid on-going relationship with a client who is important to you, be a team player and pass on the PSDs if asked. I found it works out both ways. When I've asked for PSDs, the client and/or it's vendors or other free lancers have supplied them. The general idea is to help each other out and accomplish the assignment on time and on budget and more importantly do a great job.

2. On new clients or clients I'm skeptical of, I'll hold back. The relationship has to prove itself. The client and me need to demonstrate our value and trust to each other. Me: provide great work on time and on budget. Client: pay well in a reasonable time and award new assignments.

3. Ownership: There is a very important distinction to know. Indeed, PSDs, layered or interim files, even alternate concepts or work not selected are your property. Note that acting belligerent about ownership issues WILL cost you a client and business. However, if you are working on-site at a client, on their equipment, using their resources, software, art, fonts-whatever; ANYTHING you do belongs to them.

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Oct 2, 2005, 09:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by Westbo
OK... I've been following this string for quite a while and here's my thoughts:

1. If you've have a good,solid on-going relationship with a client who is important to you, be a team player and pass on the PSDs if asked. I found it works out both ways. When I've asked for PSDs, the client and/or it's vendors or other free lancers have supplied them. The general idea is to help each other out and accomplish the assignment on time and on budget and more importantly do a great job.
Sure, if it's a solid, ongoing client, with whom I have a cordial relationship. But when it's because they're ending the relationship to go with a cheaper vendor, that's when the answer is no.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
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Oct 4, 2005, 02:00 PM
 
Clients pay for the end product and that's what should be delivered. PSDs are not negotiated into any contracts I have, they are not on the table or offered, just as fonts (unless the client pays for them), original artwork aren't. Why give the client PSDs? If they are asking for them then they probably want to do something with them. They can have and eps or flattened tiff, but that's all they really paid for, not the guts, but the finished deal. There is no entitlement to more than that.

I can't believe people will give away the farm to try to retain clients when good work and good business practice will do that for you. You don't have to whore yourself out to placate someone do you?

Geez...I guess so.
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Oct 4, 2005, 05:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by chris v
Sure, if it's a solid, ongoing client, with whom I have a cordial relationship. But when it's because they're ending the relationship to go with a cheaper vendor, that's when the answer is no.
Bingo... I agree.
     
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Oct 9, 2005, 03:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by drmcnutt
I can't believe people will give away the farm to try to retain clients when good work and good business practice will do that for you. You don't have to whore yourself out to placate someone do you?
Giving away the farm? Its not like you're gonna do anything with the files, its really not that big of a deal. If I code up a web page and give it to my client, I'm giving them my source files, how is this any different? Its not. Your creativity and good work and good business practice keeps your clients, agreed, however if your creative process is bound so tightly to what kind of crappy ps layer effects you've got, then you really need to reassess your process. Its a PSD file. Its nothing. If you can't keep your clients by doing consistent great work and they are crappy enough to want to sacrifice their business to some 14 year old who underbid you, then they're crappy clients to begin with and it really won't matter if they have the PSD's or not. So who cares? Let them take the damn PSD's there is nothing of yours in there anyway.
     
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Oct 9, 2005, 10:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
Giving away the farm? Its not like you're gonna do anything with the files, its really not that big of a deal. If I code up a web page and give it to my client, I'm giving them my source files, how is this any different? Its not. Your creativity and good work and good business practice keeps your clients, agreed, however if your creative process is bound so tightly to what kind of crappy ps layer effects you've got, then you really need to reassess your process. Its a PSD file. Its nothing. If you can't keep your clients by doing consistent great work and they are crappy enough to want to sacrifice their business to some 14 year old who underbid you, then they're crappy clients to begin with and it really won't matter if they have the PSD's or not. So who cares? Let them take the damn PSD's there is nothing of yours in there anyway.
Web pages and original artwork are the same thing? Hardly. Look if you see no value in your skills then that's good for you, but when I work on a custom solution (hey that would be mine alone) then I retain some sense of value for the effort put in. The customer buys the finished piece, not the brushes, paints and leftover canvas and that's all they are entitled to. It's really that simple.

"Who cares?" Apparently not enough people if this is an expected business practice.
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Oct 10, 2005, 08:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by drmcnutt
Web pages and original artwork are the same thing?
Web page? Custom built CMS? Blogging engine? I know quite a few who would argue that point with you, yes.


The customer buys the finished piece, not the brushes, paints and leftover canvas and that's all they are entitled to. It's really that simple.

By that analogy, the brushes would be your mouse, your paints would be photoshop, and leftover canvas would be whatever cocktail napkins you sketched on. The client is asking for none of these. The PSD *is* the final piece, just in a different arrangement of 1's and 0's. They paid for it, you have a responsibility to deliver it in whatever format they want.
     
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Oct 11, 2005, 04:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
Web page? Custom built CMS? Blogging engine? I know quite a few who would argue that point with you, yes.





By that analogy, the brushes would be your mouse, your paints would be photoshop, and leftover canvas would be whatever cocktail napkins you sketched on. The client is asking for none of these. The PSD *is* the final piece, just in a different arrangement of 1's and 0's. They paid for it, you have a responsibility to deliver it in whatever format they want.

Well the psd actually could have a lot more than just the final piece including different compositional arrangements. So are you suggesting to strip those out and then supply a basic layered file? Really not too much different than an eps except easier to take apart. Again my working psd file will contain many elements not part of the finished piece so giving them all of that seems a little too much considering the work involved. Regardless they are entitled to the end product and I have enough pride in my work not to give them unintended pieces that they could use or misuse wihout my permission.

My responsibility is more to what the client's printer or webmaster would require. If the client requires a psd what would they then use it for? Should Flash animators turn over there fla files? Exactly where does it say you are required to provide layered psd files? School, magazines and books that I have read always describe handoffs as either a tiff, pdf or eps for print. Is this a new age of entitlement that requires one to give away everything in the name of customer service?

I guess we should agree to disagree because I do not see where that A) protects my intellectual property (which is the real issue when giving files away, in the end it is what designers offer in the equation) B) offers the customer any "service" when they are receiving a hackable file to use or misuse (this is not service, but leaving yourself open for abuse-imagine the customer decides to change the font to comic sans after purchasing a logo from you-is it your design anymore?) C) offers any value in association of my work or the work of my peers (client becomes designer-designers starve for there is no need for one beyond the opening of Photoshop apparently)
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Oct 17, 2005, 04:50 PM
 
If you're exporting a psd to your client with alternate designs in it thats your own damn fault. No one is saying that. most Flash designers/developers/animators I know, myself included will turn over fla's upon request. Schools magazines etc are referring to handoffs to printers usually. If the client makes a request for a different file format, you should oblige and provide it if you can since they're paying you. Final files to the client simply aren't your intellectual property. They are your clients intellectual property. Paul Rand doesn't own the IBM logo, IBM does. If the client decides to take your final files and convert it all to comic sans, that is their prerogotive. Work the client pays for does not belong to you, you have no rights to it or its usage.
     
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Oct 18, 2005, 02:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
Work the client pays for does not belong to you, you have no rights to it or its usage.
You apparently have a very limited understanding of creator's rights of usage. You only lose the rights of usage if you give/sell the client usage rights or are doing work for hire (studio). Artists retain copyright for original artwork from the beginning. Ownership is not necessarily something the client gets with payment of their tab.

Here are a couple articles to help you along.

http://www.commarts.com/ca/colbus/marP_259.html


http://www.creativelatitude.com/arti...05_martin.html


Hopefully you will understand that what you suggest artists "simply" do is harmful to their intellectual rights and even the value of their solutions.
( Last edited by drmcnutt; Oct 18, 2005 at 02:55 AM. )
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Oct 20, 2005, 09:16 PM
 
what an interesting thread...... lots of very interesting analogy to related industries! but not sure how relevant they are.

In Australia we have a newish piece of legislation for artists and designers call 'moral rights' , which means that even if you sell the intellectual rights, or never owned them in the first place (studio work), you still have right to be or not be attributed as the author and the right to prevent or seek damages if the work is modified to the detriment of your career, credibility etc.

I've had my own experience - releasing layered files for a CD cover I designed for the 2nd imprint, in which it was modified very badly (which really ticked me off!). Thankfully the muso's lost those layered files and for the 3rd imprint they came back to me and I used the moral rights leg. as a reason for not releasing the layered files a second time. It caused a but of grief and I offered to make the neccessayr edits for FREE, but somehow this was unacceptable to them (suspicious?) and the stalling with the artwork unfortunately killed the opportunity for the 3rd pressing.... not a good outcome. I have since patched things up with the clients (and friends) but we didn't speak for about a year!

Since then I am a lot more open about what I will and won't provide to the clients when I start a job - and to alleviate concerns that they are not getting 'enough' material, I often release things to them like photos, research material, logo varients etc other designers wouldn't but I try not to do it in formats they can fark around with too much. You always have to be careful about the techie, all rounded computer guy employed at virtually every company who knows how to use graphics software and will do anything to make his employer happy .... he's cheaper than you for a reason.

I now work at a print shop and am now on the other end. I am constantly having 'discussions' with my boss and also unfortunately my design colleagues about the inappropriateness of modifying outside designs that come to us with changes requested by our clients.... and sometimes you just have to do it but if you do it puts you in the uncomfortable position of needing to analyse (and respect) the original designers intentions.

bwt I think these 'moral rights' we have in oz were inspired by similar and yet more agressive artists rights in France and Canada - anyone know about those? I understand that in France an artist like a painter is entitled to royalties EVERYTIME a painting is sold or resold, even if its decades after he or she first sold it. A bit like a musicians royalties ( oh they have it so much sweeter than us design grunts... ...)
     
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Oct 20, 2005, 09:45 PM
 
imagine if we got royalties for everytime our design was published..... or for everytime a CD we designed the cover for was sold. I once tried to negoiate THAT with some musicains in lieu of fees..... no dice.
( Last edited by yugyug; Oct 20, 2005 at 09:51 PM. )
     
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Oct 24, 2005, 10:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by godzookie2k
If you're exporting a psd to your client with alternate designs in it thats your own damn fault. No one is saying that. most Flash designers/developers/animators I know, myself included will turn over fla's upon request. Schools magazines etc are referring to handoffs to printers usually. If the client makes a request for a different file format, you should oblige and provide it if you can since they're paying you. Final files to the client simply aren't your intellectual property. They are your clients intellectual property. Paul Rand doesn't own the IBM logo, IBM does. If the client decides to take your final files and convert it all to comic sans, that is their prerogotive. Work the client pays for does not belong to you, you have no rights to it or its usage.
Bro do you have legal background here? Or are these opinions disguised as fact due to your veracity in their repetition? Statements like:

Final files to the client simply aren't your intellectual property. They are your clients intellectual property.
Work the client pays for does not belong to you, you have no rights to it or its usage.
...just aren't true. From copyright.gov:

When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
It is your choice whether or not to hand it over to the client. Simply because you are being paid to create does not automatically transfer ownership of that creation. It appears as though you could be mistaking a company's ownership of its employees' creations, which is how most all companies are structured.

Photographers always retain copyright (and thus ownerhip) of their images, unless the contract states otherwise. E.g. Models... Models don't own the images you take of them in any sense whatsoever. In all likelihood you'll need a release to use them in the pursuit of profit (that's another topic) but even in that case the model doesn't own them.

As most others have posted here, if the PSDs were to be given over, it would have to be come at significant cost to the client due to the nonstandard terms. I believe enough balanced viewpoints on the matter have been offered on the general appropriateness of the request and how it should be handled. Very good discussion! Interested to keep reading

Rob
     
 
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