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Would you provide your layered files?

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  #11  
Old 10-11-2005, 02:47 PM
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goose443 goose443 is offline
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I would seriously think twice about handing over layered files. Where I work we are never allowed to hand over layered files or any native files for that matter... no matter who owns the copyrights to the materials. Clients are paying for the final product, not for the whole tool box.
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  #12  
Old 10-12-2005, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emarts
I have never charged extra for the layered PSD file. But then the only people asking for them are my commercial accounts (photographers and design firms). Technically (and I could be wrong here) they own the copyright to the photos anyway and it's no big deal for me to hand off the layered file. It's not unusual for them to make minor last minute changes (I know they aren't going to make any significant changes without me) to the images, and having the layered file makes that much easier for them. I see it as providing good customer service. And a good reason for them to continue to use my services. I am not interested in milking my customers for all I can get out of them.

For private work, I don't even tell my customers anything about layered files, and they never ask.

The original question had to do with sending layered files as a sample retouch for a possible job. I've also turned over layered files, as it is part of the biz
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  #13  
Old 10-12-2005, 02:52 PM
emarts emarts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grafx
Are you saying by charging extra for cleaning up, clearly labeling layers and supplying a layered .PSD on disc is "milking" someone? I'd select some different wording.
Whether or not the client asks for it, aren't you doing that anyway?

Just about every file I work on is layered and each layer has a name that makes sense. At the end of the day, the final artwork is flattened. Where's the extra work that I should charge for?

And just to be clear about copyrights. Depending on how you are hired (contractor vs. work-for-hire), everything you create, including the layered PSD file may belong to your client.

And no, I wouldn't hand over a layered PSD file just to get a job. But if I were to do a test job, I wouldn't watermark it either.

Last edited by emarts; 10-12-2005 at 02:55 PM. Reason: additional info.
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  #14  
Old 10-12-2005, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emarts

And just to be clear about copyrights. Depending on how you are hired (contractor vs. work-for-hire), everything you create, including the layered PSD file may belong to your client.

You may not have the right to use the layered files elsewhere because the client owns the copyright to the original material but if you contracted for the final retouched photograph, the client is entitled only to the photograph; not to the layered file used to create it. Of course other arrangements are possible and are often the case but you should not feel obligated to release native files unless specifically agreed upon in the contract.
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  #15  
Old 10-12-2005, 03:24 PM
emarts emarts is offline
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That is true if you are hired as an independant contractor. If you are hired on a freelance basis (work-for-hire), which is generally paid by the hour, all your art belongs to your employer.

I suppose that if you are an independant contractor, you could argue that the layered files belong to you, but not the copyright. Unless you are the creator of the entire artwork. In which case you'd negotiate usage rights, not whether or not the client is entitled to the PSD files. That would be moot.
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  #16  
Old 10-12-2005, 03:29 PM
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The tricky thing is this; In the process of retouching we often create and merge layers. We use layers for reference and delete them as part of the process of retouching. Even if the contrator owns all your artwork who is to say the flattened version isn't the final. If the layered file is "destroyed" there is no breach in the contract and the process by which the final product was achieved stays where it should stay, with the artist. Otherwise the contractor is not only getting the final photograph but also the entire process and "trade secrets" to achieving that product. It is important to separate the designer's intellectual property from the product that has been contracted for.
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  #17  
Old 10-12-2005, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emarts
Whether or not the client asks for it, aren't you doing that anyway?

Just about every file I work on is layered and each layer has a name that makes sense. At the end of the day, the final artwork is flattened. Where's the extra work that I should charge for?
My layer naming makes sense to me, but not necessarily everyone else. If someone purchases the layered file from me, I make it a bit more user-friendly, burn to disk and mail to them (My normal method is ftp or emai). I charge for this. It is not something that is automatically given to a client. They own the orginal file and the finished product, but they do not own the steps in between.

It would be like paying to view a magician's show and expecting to be told how he did all his tricks. He might tell you for a price.

Perhaps your clients are different than mine. To each their own, but charging for an additional service is far from "milking" when you consider your time and materials.
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  #18  
Old 10-12-2005, 04:03 PM
emarts emarts is offline
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I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend anyone. Just stating my point of view. I have four long-time clients. Have had them since 2000. I am an independant contractor for them.

As I see it, these clients need to be able to make last minute, usually minor changes to the images I give them before they go to press. If it's easier for them to do it with my layered file, I have no problem with that. It costs me no extra time and it solidifies my relationship with them. Plus it saves me from the hassle of last minute changes. BTW, they are kind enough to give me the layered PSD files back when I need it for other jobs I do for them.

I just can't see myself being a difficult artist with them.

Occasionally I get busy enough that I need to hire retouchers myself. I've never run into a problem asking for and receiving the PSD files. And if a retoucher gave me a hassle over it, I wouldn't hire him again.

I completely understand if the retoucher was creating a work of art from scratch. But 99% of the work I do goes through a gauntlet of other artists. If one of those artists decided to be difficult, it would jeopardize the project. I don't want to have that reputation.

In the end, the client is hiring me and my skill. They won't be stealing that from me if they get the PSD file. And they will hire me again if they can't work the file themselves.

I suppose the underlying fear here is that when the client gets your PSD file, they take off with it and won't need you anymore. But I think that fear is baseless. You should be more concerned with usage if you claim to have copyright on the image. The client hired you to do the job because they couldn't do it in the first place. If they are taking your layered file and bringing it to someone else, then you've done something wrong and couldn't keep the client happy.

Last edited by emarts; 10-12-2005 at 04:09 PM. Reason: additional info
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  #19  
Old 10-12-2005, 04:26 PM
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Emarts,

No need to apologize. We are all just expressing opinions. I think the group is best served when people disagree as there is a more wholistic view presented.

I understand your situation and can appreciate workflows that go through many hands. In that case it is important for everyone to have access to native files. It is however, also important that an agreement be established and that it is understood by the client that the release of native files is an added value to the service the artist is providing.

There is no inherent problem with releasing native files. The only thing is that by releasing them you are giving the client to not only the final product but an editable version of the final product. That is not only added value but in many cases immense added value. It just makes sense that the artist should be compensated for providing that value along with the finished product. I tend to think this is far from milking a client for more money. Providing editable files is a whole extra service and should be billed as such, regardless of how little extra work it might represent for the artist. It's like the difference between buying software and buying open source software that can be edited and altered.

In terms of watermarking, there are plenty of scam artists out piece-mealing their projects out to artists as "tests" in order to get hired. Needless to say they never actually hire anyone and slowly accumulate material through these "tests". It is always a good idea to have some sort of security for your work even if it is just a test. Releasing layered files without watermarking is a risky proposition when no contract or relationship has been established.
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  #20  
Old 10-12-2005, 05:24 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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and i see where we're in the gray area of copyrights again. if a client gives you a photo to work on, i think we all agree that he owns that copyright to that photo. however, he does NOT own what you do on the work, except the final product that he has contracted for and only then if you are paid in full. he does NOT own your layers that you used to get to the final product unless that was part of the contract. he contracted for a specific product. that is ALL you are obligated to give him (providing he meets his requirement of paying you).

you've been given permission to work on his image. you make 20 layers (or whatever) that is YOUR work. you own them. however, because it is based on his copyrighted material, you cant sell them or display them or whatever without his permission. but, you still own them.

if a master painter were commissioned to paint a piece, he is only obligated to provide the finished product. he is NOT obligated to turn over any sketches or trials or anything else he may have done to get to the final piece (unless that was part of the contract). now, that's not quite the same thing, since the artist isnt working on a copyrighted piece to begin with. but, he was given an image to copy into an oil, this would be very similar.

the only thing the client owns is the original. and the only thing he's contracted for is the final work (unless otherwise stipulated).

that one does turn over one's layers as just part of the process is just your own good will or whatever.

one of my nieces does pencil sketches where she looks at an original and then makes a copy of it in pencil. if she did 5 trial pieces and one finished piece, i would not expect a client to ask for the trials nor would i consider him entitled to them.

Craig
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