Why creative working file is not "free"?

While not all creative work is a masterpiece, there are still thought processes behind every design, photography, or video works.

Last year, a coffee brand from Poland had signed an agreement with us to manage its social media presence in Malaysia. It was clearly stated in the agreement that creative working files are subject to additional cost.

Right before we started working on it, the brand's representative had suddenly requested to have all the creative working files. We tried to negotiate but he insisted not to pay a single cent extra for the working file, even though he revealed that they need the creatives to adapt to other markets.

We tried to resonate and justify but he insisted that why couldn't we just share the files for "free" with them since it won't cost us anything. He further insulted us by saying that he can get this done "outside" cheaply.

I can assure you that we didn't charge the brand a bomb and we neither price nor value our work like Picasso's. Since the brand rep couldn't value creative work at all, we made the right decision to terminate the agreement before we even started.

We are thankful that most of our clients understand why creative working files are not "free", and we will usually state these terms clearly to avoid any misunderstanding.

However, I can understand why some might still don't get it so allow me to explain below.

Creative working file?

Using wedding photography package as an example

Have you signed up for a wedding photography or videography package? After taking hundreds of photos and do you get to keep all the photos or raw files?

Yes, if only you commit and pay extra for them. You might be wondering why since they will be of no use for the wedding photography studio, right?

This is fair and square as the studio would have told you when they are selling you the packages. They have invested in their business, hiring photographers, photography equipment, venue and props, etc.

Why would the studio give you all the photos or raw files if you don't pay for them?

Creative work is not as simple as you think

While not all creative work is a masterpiece, there are still thought processes behind every design, photography, or video works. If it is so simple, why not do it yourself?

Most of the designers, photographers, videographers, video editors - they have gone through the education, acquired a diploma or degree, gained working experience - just like every other professional.

Those talents and skills do not come for free, and Adobe software is certainly not free. An individual license for all apps costs SGD70 monthly while a commercial license for all app costs SGD119 monthly.

We also need to factor in high-spec computers, professional cameras, and other hardware costs.

Don't disrespect creativity and have some empathy

Hope you will have some empathy for the creative work by now. 

Please tell your agencies or designers in advance (not after the job delivery) if you need the working files. This is especially true if you need to repurpose them for other media or usages.

Be honest, negotiate with them so that it can be factored into the cost, agencies or designers need to be reasonable too in their quote, as long as it's fair for both parties.

Don't ask again why the creative working file is not "free".



Silver Mouse: Why creative working file is not "free"?
Why creative working file is not "free"?
While not all creative work is a masterpiece, there are still thought processes behind every design, photography, or video works.
Silver Mouse
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