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Protect your work.

June 1, 2011

Protecting our work, once completed and handed out, is OUR RIGHT… and a delicate matter.
Since the computer changed  forever they way we produce our work, protection is at stake. It is almost impossible to control that, giving away the source files, our work will be reproduced and modified without our permission and differenty from what agreed.
More often clients ask for source files, what should we do when this happens?

It worldwide accepted that the creator owns the instruments used to complete a job, unless different agreements.
This shoud sweep away any doubt… doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t… and the client insists  can you give the InDesign files? may I have the source files? What should a designer do?

The law is quite vague on this matter, but almost everywhere in the world the source files are considered the instruments to complete the job, and these should belong to the author (in most of the cases the firm that signed the contract). The client normaly buys the final product, unless different existing agreements.

The doubt on how to react to such requests still lingers though.

First of all…. anticipate the issue!
Write simple but clear contracts, precisely indicating the nature of the services and of the products the client is buying.
Second, pay attention to the copyright laws!
You may use artworks or pictures done and taken by other people, make sure you have the rights to use them and the right to edit them before passing them to your client.
When to reply “OK, no problem”.
Luckily there are long term partnership, in these cases don’t worry and promptly reply YES to your clients asking for source files, in the long run this wil turn out very useful, when called to produce revisions or when problems may rise. This could be a favour to your client that could become a favour to yourself.
When to reply “I am sorry but…”
Definitely with one-work clients. There is no need to be harsh, in fact a calm explanation for your reasons would do- for example you can say that  the source files contain elements of your exclusive property.

Everytime a client asked me for the source files I kind of trembled, but then I think I almost always made the right choice. Trusting is a good thing, not trusting…

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