Many of you are hiring designers for the Merch by Amazon program. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is some confusion as to who owns the source files. I hear clients complaining about how their designers won’t hand over the source files. So the question is, “who owns the rights to the original source files?”
The common misconception is that the client has the rights to the original source file. However, that is far from the truth. The AIGA, which is the largest and oldest professional association for design, states that “copyright is the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your creative work.” This means that giving the source file violates the copyright.
As a client, you are typically always paying for the final product. The source file is never to be included upon delivery unless it is something you discuss with the designer in the beginning. Most designers are willing to include the source file with the final product for an additional fee.
While I’m not an expert on this particular topic, I understand the norm. It’s always best to talk to intellectual property attorneys. You can also read more about copyright for graphic designers on the AIGA site.