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Thread: Handing over source files for a Commission discussion

  1. #1
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Default Handing over source files for a Commission discussion

    I have been working on a requested commission and the question came up regarding source files. I use Gimp so that would be the .xcf which includes all the layers etc. I guess Photoshop equivalent is the .psd file.

    I talked to a couple of you already but my client had never really thought about this as being any sort of issue. He hadn't thought about them as ultimate proof of authorship so we were both curious to hear what the rest of the community had to say.

    The reason the request was made for the source file is so the map could be updated to reflect changes in the world as they campaign in it for the next couple years.

    So, for the record, how is this handled?

    Hopefully, that made sense.

    PS. I am learning here as well because had I thought about it beforehand we would have already discussed this.
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 12-10-2010 at 02:20 AM.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    I almost never hand over the source files for anything, the source files are my property, the resulting jpg/pdf/flattened image etc is what I'm selling. In theory sourcefiles also hold information about how you do your magic. In addition to that the work also consists of using different brushes, textures etc - some of those could be brushes you bought from others and if so are not legal to share with others.

    A compromise could be delivering a unmarked map as well, as it probably will be names and stuff that might change. If there suddenly appears a rift through the continent I'm guessing the client would want an edited map for that anyway.
    regs tilt
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    I never give my originals away and free updates have to be limited to just labels and icons - moving terrain around or drawing new things by hand (even if you use masks) is a major pain after you've started doing the finish work.
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    Community Leader jfrazierjr's Avatar
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    I agree. If you have any hesitancy "at all" about handing over the source files, then don't. There a quite a number of ways around this issue as noted above such as an unlabeled map with layers flattened. You could even do a PDF document with layers if you know how. If the OP wants anything more than minor edits for location names or political borders, then he needs to have you update with those. As an alternate, if the OP has some world shattering changes(half the continent sinks) in store, extra pay for extra work either at the time needed or up front would be required.
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    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    The usual solution in the business I am in is to get them to sign an NDA - a non disclosure agreement. That prevents them from disclosing and disseminating your property which is the IP (intellectual property) which is the source files. On the other hand I usually don't care a jot and just give them the whole kaboodle. But then most of what I do involves tools I have written so its of limited use to them anyway. But when writing code I don't do open source and keep all source files well locked up. I have been requested the source files numerous times for ViewingDale even to the point of trying to do bug hunting for some guys problem which I could not replicate until I worked out he was using a different OS and was trying to port the damn thing over. So yeah, if you care about it and have reservations about it then don't. Your not under obligation to supply more than was agreed.

    Which brings up a secondary point, be careful about what you are agreeing to supply at the outset. Make sure your contract target is well defined and ensure that they agree to the final before billing them the final amount for the work. Any extras after that point are at your discretion - you have fulfilled your contractual obligation.

    I think people should consider these issues before setting a price too. Sometimes they set the price for the work to do in making the image but there is more involved in making your customer happy and satisfied that he has the required legal protection for the work. That, for some awkward customers, can be more effort than the making of the map. You can usually spot these people from the request they initially submit. The more legally / commercially unrealistic it is the more you want to walk from it. People who have clear and realistic expectations about what they are getting and what they are not are the best to work for. Those are the people who you stick with and are usually the people that get projects completed and are generally successful.

    EDIT - Ohh this just popped up on the radar so thought id share:
    http://www.softwarebyrob.com/2010/12...oxic-customer/
    Last edited by Redrobes; 12-10-2010 at 09:49 AM.

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    Community Leader Gracious Donor mearrin69's Avatar
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    Great link. Some customers are not worth the money you get from them.

    If it's a work for hire gig I have no problem handing over the source file...but won't necessarily keep *everything* editable. Of course I'm fairly new at this so maybe I'm being naive about it.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    I think it's important to know why the client is asking for the source files. If they are a company and they're going to alter the image down the line and still present it as your work then I'd be very cautious - a lot of damage can be done to a file by tweaking the layers and you don't necessarily want your name on that. I've had a few images I've done turn up looking very different from the final image I supplied. However if it's for a private client who wants to edit the map down the line for their home game, then it's a very different scenario. Those kind of commissions are mostly done on good nature so it's worth talking to the client to find out what they need the files for, and then seeing how much of a pain it is to create a layered file that makes that goal easy to achieve. There's rarely if ever a good reason to give a client the full file without any flattening. However there might be some value in providing a file with a base land/sea layer, a forest layer and a labels layer. That's still a long way from the full file, but should be more useful.

    I've only rarely given out the source files, and always with a clear statement from the client of how they'll be used.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected tilt's Avatar
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    nice link redrobes - not that I think this of Jax's customer, but there are some bad seeds out there - have had one just a month ago and it sucks.
    regs tilt
    :: My art on Deviant Art :: My mapping blog tilts fantasy maps :: My work Catapult - Perry & Gehrke - EasyTruckIT ::
    :: Finished Maps :: WIP Cartographia - Breakwater -Market -Lands of Twilight -Battle City :: Competion maps Iron Giant ::
    :: FREE Tiles - Compasses :: Other Taking a commision - Copyright & Creative Commons ::
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  9. #9
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Nice link on monster customers, eek.
    As an Owner/Operator of my own service oriented business I have had a few of those. One who is infamous to my friends and family (six calls during the Superbowl) but that's another story. This is certainly not the case with my customer. We are both reasonable people and want the best solution for all parties. I wasn't expecting to hand out everything so I was caught on my heels just a little. A good lesson on being clear at the beginning I think.

    It is nice to hear some of the best practices regarding this because it can be a touchy subject that I can see might get out of hand. Like tilt said, when you hand out all your layers and whatnot you are handing out secrets to how you do things that may have taken you a long time to discover. An interesting point as well that if someone makes a few tweaks to a layer and posts it on the Internet it might not be the best representation of your work. Hopefully, there would be a note that it's been modified but you know how the net can be.

    I think this is a case where my user can really benefit from having the layers (so they can modify over time as events unfold). I think that simplifying the layers and passing that on is a good solution. As artist I will have my original work and the customer will have everything they need. I can flatten my mountains from 3 layers into 1, etc and it will be an easy thing for them to change when necessary.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  10. #10
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Let's see, Superbowl's on a Sunday, so you get to charge time and a half, right?

    Defining the nature of the deliverables is definitely something that should be in the original agreement. If a client wants to modify the agreement to include handing over source files, that should be an additional fee. That will compensate you for possibly revealing confidential techniques (consider how much you'd want to be paid to teach a private lesson) and for potential lost income on revisions.

    On the other hand, there are times when you don't want to be bothered making revisions later on—if the original job did not pay well enough, for instance, or you were working for barter. In that case, I should think that a layered Photoshop file ready for minor revisions would be something you should give away. I did some work in exchange for a cut of music a while back (the only map commission I've yet taken), and since it would be difficult to work out a fair exchange for revisions, I gave the client a PSD that included the base map, a layer of roads, a layer of icons, and a layer of labels. That way, if he wants to change something it's fairly easy for him to do so without having to contact me about it. My long-term commitment to that project is merely archival in case he has a data failure (which actually occurred recently, as it happens).
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