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What's a good anecdote for understanding IP law as it relates to creative source files?

We need only go back to the creation of Idea Grove's original website.

Idea Grove 2005

In 2005, when I was creating Idea Grove’s first website, I contracted with an artist to create artwork for our homepage hero image. This particular artist worked with paint on canvas, and then digitized her images for clients. Though I commissioned her work specifically for Idea Grove’s use, my ownership rights were limited to the digital file used for the hero image, and not the original painting that the digital file came from.

I, of course, would have loved that original painting to hang on my walls, but I would have had to pay separately for it. Instead, she kept it in storage for several years. Finally, when I could afford her asking price, I paid for it and she shipped it me. This was eight years after I had commissioned the work.

It’s the same with art files, working files or source files. They are not the finished product because you don’t have PSDs or Illustrator files on your website or in your collateral. PSDs are layered, working files; they are not the digital files on your website.

Now, if this were a work-for-hire situation, it would be different. When you are a full-time employee at a company, typically anything you create is owned by your employer. However, the agency/client relationship is fundamentally different in that respect.

- Scott Baradell