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  • Overseas Printer asking for Native Files

    I own a small marketing agency. We have recently begun working with graphic designers to make sure our clients needs are better met in this area. We have a client that is going through a company she found herself in China to print her packaging. They are asking for native files (which of course my designer doesnt want to give up). I support my designer in whatever she decides. My question is, is it common practice for printers to need the native file? Is this something we should expect? What do we charge our client for the native files?
    Thanks!

  • #2
    Hi Adrimn123 and welcome to GDF.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by adrimn123 View Post
      They are asking for native files (which of course my designer doesnt want to give up). I support my designer in whatever she decides. My question is, is it common practice for printers to need the native file?
      Why do you say "of course" she doesn't want to supply them? Depending on the complexity of the job, it's sometimes important for a printer to have the native files in order to make prepress adjustments and corrections to the files that the designer, for whatever, did not make. Before press-ready PDFs became common, supplying native files to printers was the standard way to do things. Today, a PDF will suffice in most instances, but for some kinds of work, like packaging, large format or anything a bit out of the ordinary, it's still best to supply the native files. I don't understand your designer's reluctance to supply them.

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      • #4
        Why wouldn't your designer supply what the printer needs? Especially in packaging where a die-line is most likely present. If the die-line is visible in the PDF, the printer would need to open the PDF in some kind of can-opener program, with all the inherent dangers of doing that, to access the die-line for creating the die and to remove it for printing.

        Not to mention color correction and the fact that packaging software mostly works with native .ai files. And sometimes, depending on how old the print machine's software, the .ai file has to be dumb-downable to the version that can be imported.

        I'm in the US and ALL of the large format work I do, including ALL of my outsources is ''native file preferred.''
        In some cases it is ''native file ONLY.''

        It sounds to me like this designer has never used this printer before. Do you want to do that to one of your clients? The other end of that question is why aren't you vetting print suppliers you want your designers to be using, in the interests of quality control? And supplying spec sheets for each of them so everything is submitted properly?

        If it's a trust issue, time to find a new printer.
        Last edited by PrintDriver; 09-28-2016, 09:58 AM.

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        • #5
          The more I read about things like this, the more I believe that withholding native files is just poor business.

          I think this idea that native files shouldn't be released came about because there are clients who would take a native file, say for a newsletter layout or something, and jack it up. A lot of those stories involved a client who wasn't trained in design, like a marketing manager, or an admin, or a hobbyist graphic designer, who would paste clip art in the margins and replace all the fonts with Comic Sans and Cracked. And some designers are worried about designs getting stolen, but that's going to happen anyway without releasing native files, and if you price smartly then you don't have to worry about the client getting away with a rolex for the price of a swatch.

          As long as you and your designer trust the client to know what they're doing with the native files (and if they're a printer, then you should), then it's beneficial for all business parties involved to hand them over.

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          • #6
            The problem can be the font licenses. PDFs only subset the font. Handing over full native files, including fonts, falls into a gray area.
            Most large format lends itself to outlining the text cuz there isn't a lot of it. Most printers also have a full font library and, likely as not, already have the license for most mainstream fonts already. If it is an issue for you, discuss it with your printer. I have never understood the restrictions on output once a font license has been purchased. The printer doesn't have to buy an image license to print an image the designer has already licensed. Fonts should work the same way, but not all do.

            Imagery is another area where designers balk. I don't know why. A reputable printer isn't going to steal your or your client's imagery. A printer is more likely to wonder if you and your client have the specific rights to reproduce an image. Don't be surprised to see an indemnity clause in your print contract. It's just as wrong for a printer to print something without permission, as it is for a designer to lift it. It's been known to happen that print vendors have been hauled into court on licensing disputes, as one of the accused.

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            • #7
              [QUOTE=salsa;n1631134I think this idea that native files shouldn't be released came about because there are clients who would take a native file, say for a newsletter layout or something, and jack it up.[/QUOTE]

              I have no hesitation about turning over native files to printers who request them. For that matter it reassures me when they're conscientious enough to request the native files.

              I do, however, have reservations about turning over native files to clients unless those were the terms agreed to in the contract, which usually doesn't happen. Clients typically want native files thinking they can subsequently save money by using those files to produce future work. Unfortunately, they rarely understand the complexities involved and end up making a costly mess of things. It's, of course, in my interests to keep the native files so they'll come back to me for more work. Some things I can't legally just turn over to clients anyway, like fonts and licensed imagery (unless, of course, the clients license them themselves). Typically when a client asks for native files, I ask, "Do you own the latest version of InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop? Do you have the expertise to use them. Do you own licenses to the several hundred dollar's worth of fonts and imagery that I've included in those files? More often than not, they see it's not worth it to them.


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