Media company requested my InDesign files

Worked for a client for 6+years. No issues that I’ve been aware of. I knew he hired someone local to create a folder for his marketing materials because he sent me the proof with a message that just said “FYI”.

Received an email today from his new design firm that said, “Please send me the InDesign files for these three pieces when you get a chance” and attached the PDF files referencing what he was requesting.

The design is not complicated and they can simply recreate it themselves. We aren’t working together on anything either so I thought this request was unprofessional.

If anyone has received a request such as this, how did you respond?

Thanks in advance.

My contract stipulated I hold the finished files for one year. If you also have such contract, and the said files have passed the archive period, then it is at your discretion to tell them tough, the files are no longer in your hand, or yeah, it will cost you $xxx to de-archive them.

If it is not the case, I do not have a problem releasing the files, with the exception of the fonts used.

I am curious myself that why could they not simply rebuild the files themselves.

Did you have an agreement with the client about what the deliverables were and who owns the source files? If not, he might think that whatever he paid you entitled him to those files in addition to the end product that he received, which puts you in a bit of a bind. Or it might be that this new designer is an amateur who thinks he can save some time by borrowing your work.

Sometimes, with long-term clients, it’s easy to dispense with the formalities, but doing so comes with risks, like this one.

If it were me, I’d probably give the client a friendly call to mention that this new designer asked you for source files. I’d also ask who this new designer is and diplomatically ask why he didn’t hire you instead of them.

If he still intends to hire you in the future, I’d diplomatically remind him that he only purchased the final product, not the source files. However, I would agree to send them to this new designer this one time (minus the fonts and any stock art, which you legally can’t transfer) with the understanding that in the future, obtaining the source files would entail an extra fee. If he doesn’t intend to use you in the future, I’d probably say the files are proprietary property.


I have never had such requests, only from customers or former customers - if they want lots of files It’s usually a sign that you won’t be seeing the client again (for a long time).

You have no contractual relationship with his new design firm.
You can tell them: let me check with my client.

Then call your client and see what the future holds.

If he leaves you, charge what you can. If not, give him the data, or the new design company if he authorizes you to do so.

By the way

(my) General Terms and Conditions
10.2 Changes or adaptations of the Agency’s services, in particular their further development by the Client or by third parties working for the Client, shall only be permitted with the express consent of the Agency (me) and - insofar as the services are protected by copyright - of the author. The publication of all so-called. “open files” (Indesign) is therefore expressly not part of the contract. The agency is not obliged to surrender them. This means that the client has no legal claim to the rights of use for “electronic works” without a contractual assignment.
(translated from German by deepl)



Just-B’s comments were more than better. They are your perfect best options.


I live in a different world where all the files, with very few exceptions, belong to the client. Though I gotta admit, it’s usually the client that calls me, not the new designer in question. I’d definitely run it by your client, as B mentioned.

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