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Client hired a new company and wants the source files

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Dan Nocera
Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 16, 2010 at 11:11:39 pm

I did a freelance marketing video for a company about 2 years ago. I get call last week that I need to send a dvd master for replication to another production company out of state. I make the dvd and mail it off all out of my pocket(10$) No big deal. I get a call today that I sent the wrong thing. They want all the source files and the FCP master project file etc because they need to re-edit the video. . .

The original client never told me to archive the project, but I always do just in case. Now I'll be sending all my hard work to another production company who is going to replace the logos and re-edit sections and re-author the dvd because the product being promoted in the video has changed in the last two years.

Has anyone dealt with this before? How should I handle this? Should I charge? If so, how much?




Dan Nocera
CTFCPUG Moderator

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Richard Cooper
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 16, 2010 at 11:26:29 pm

I mean, I suppose it comes down to what you had in your original contract.... but except when SPECIFICALLY STATED BEFOREHAND my project files NEVER leave my studio. The only exception that I have ever made on this is for a reality series in which we send out the media managed FCP Timeline to an online house in Nashville for sound and color. But this was stipulated in the contract and agreed by both parties BEFORE I ever took the gig.

All you owe them is a master of the project in whatever format that you agreed upon, HDCAM, DVD, DV CAM.... whatever, but never your FCP project files. Those are your "intellectual property" and if you release them you should be paid well for them. Just my humble opinion.

Hope this helps you in some way.

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 16, 2010 at 11:57:22 pm

[Dan Nocera] "I get call last week that I need to send a dvd master for replication to another production company out of state. I make the dvd and mail it off all out of my pocket(10$) No big deal."

Dan,

Though I risk sounding like The Dog Whisperer, the line above already tells me that your state of mind about business is all wrong. Making that DVD for the "former" client cost you a lot more than $10 out of your pocket.

Do you think for a minute that if you went to any heavyweight video facility anywhere that you would walk out the door two years later with a DVD of your project for $10?

In business 101, the $10 you lost is referred to your "out of pocket expense," but your true loss is substantially more than that -- you must also factor in your loss of revenue. Understanding that will someday allow you to become one of the heavyweights, disregarding it will keep you from becoming one.

Do yourself a favor, do the research on this. Take the time to find out what a real heavyweight would charge, not just for the DVD, but for turning over the complete project. Then, wake up and smell the roses, and charge them a business-like fee. By the time you locate, un-archive, restore, transfer, copy, burn, pack, and deliver everything to the post office, you're looking at an entire day's work, without the possibility of achieving anything productive. Charge them for it...

Good luck,
David (aka - The Post-production Whisperer)

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Chris Blair
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:35:01 am

In addition to what everyone else has posted...also don't assume that they're going to the other production company because of price or being unhappy with your work etc. There could be a dozen reasons they're doing what they're doing with the other production company, with many if not all having nothing to do with you.

So be polite, be efficient, definitely charge them for the time to provide these as David states, but don't automatically assume the client is a lost cause. We've had similar things happen on many occasions and in almost every one, the client eventually came back to us because they saw the grass wasn't greener (or cheaper or better) on the other side.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 17, 2010 at 1:59:57 am

Hey Dan,

In addition to the other comments and previous threads on this forum. If you don't have a contract, what did you invoice the client for? If it was for the final DVD, then that is what they purchased.

It is always annoying when another company takes over your hard work. However, a lot can change within your clients business in two years, such as new mangers, location, product changes etc, and if you haven't stayed in touch with them, you've left the door open for the competition to go in.

Look at the positive, as David says, you can charge top-dollar for accessing your library and converting the materials - after all, you are providing a service saving them money at the other company.


All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Latest video to watch here:


Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Blog: http://macmillionltd.blogspot.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
walter biscardi
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 17, 2010 at 2:48:43 am

I put in my contracts with clients that Project Files are not included in my price. This is the "service" they are paying me for. They are entitled to all raw materials and master files, but no project files.

This includes Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Motion and any other software I use. If they wish to purchase the project files, they cost an additional $150/hour with a minimum $1,000 fee.

So in your case, I would go back to the original project invoice, see how many hours I worked and either charge the additional $150/hour fee or $1,000, whichever is higher. And of course I would receive payment before the project files were shipped out.

I haven't had any problems with this policy and it's a pretty standard practice among colleagues I work with.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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grinner hester
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 17, 2010 at 6:30:14 pm

I've never had this request but I'd not aid another post-house with raw files in this case. I'd simpkly explain the time that has passed, the impossibility of that happening and mention how much money they'd save by returning to the place that is familiar with the project.
of course, I'd have to ask why they were wanting to spend that extra money. I'd see it as a failure on my part and make sure they know I see it that way. I'd do what I had to to get em back into my place, not in someone else's.



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Mike Cohen
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Feb 17, 2010 at 7:19:13 pm

depends upon the contract, and depends upon the client.

If you have a contract that says "client owns everything" then send it to them. If you are concerned with recouping the $20 shipping charge then go for it, but most clients don't want to concern themselves with tiny charges. You need to build in enough cost into your charges to account for things like shipping, drives, blank discs etc.

If this is a new client, or a client who is not yet a multiple-return client, and you don't have anything specified in the contract, then discuss the "cost" of your source files.

If this is a multiple-return client, which is a great relationship to have, then decide how it will affect the relationship to get into a tizzy about this. If the client has paid you six figures and you have projects still on the books, maybe there is another reason they need the files.

In my experience, you may finish a video project for a client, they are happy, but then they ask that you send a master to an ad agency for the next phase. Sure, you could do what the ad agency is doing, but mid-project with a marketing deadline approaching is not the time to hit the client up for the ad agency work. They probably have 20 other pieces to this puzzle going on simultaneous to yours. Help your client do what they need to do, then later talk to them about handling some of the other tasks in the future. You can do it, maybe the client knows you can do it, but maybe they don't.

In other words, look at this situation as an opportunity. You may be able to sell the client your services as an alternative to you sending the files to another company. But again, saying "but I can do that, why go to them?" may be valid factually but not realistic in practice, due to other circumstances that you may not be aware of.

Mike Cohen


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Milton Hockman
Re: Client hired a new company and wants the source files
on Mar 19, 2010 at 5:18:34 pm

you should definitely communicate with your client and ask "why they want the files." maybe they'll tell you, maybe they wont.

But all previous posters make great points.

You should inform the client that you will bill accordingly for transfer of files. Hourly rate (or flat fee) to restore, organize, ship, rights transfer fee, etc. You should NOT do this for Free.

Only exception would be if you did a project freelance for a studio, I think they would own the rights to the work even if you did it at home.



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