A RAW Deal
When your client wants your unedited files, it’s a problem.
By aaron m. arce STarK
Has this ever happened to you: your
client wants your ra W files from the
wedding you just shot, and he or she
says they’ll pay you after the files are sent.
doubly worse, your contract says nothing about
ra W files, just that you will deliver “the pictures
taken” at the wedding.
can you withhold the final, unmarked
images until he or she pays you? Probably.
it depends on the contract you have, but in
general, you are free to withhold your final
product until you get paid.
But what if the client claims that the ra W
files are the final product and count as “the
pictures taken” as covered by your contract?
first, your contract probably includes a
clause stating that you will edit the images
before final delivery (and if it doesn’t, it should).
you can point to this clause to support the idea
that the ra W files are not the finished product,
but rather part of your artistic process.
Second, you can point out that even if the
contract obliges you to hand over the ra W
files, you nevertheless own their copyrights. This
means that your client cannot legally “tweak”
them as he said he wished to without the
copyright holder’s permission. if your contract
states that the files were created as a work-for-
hire and that the client owns the copyrights,
then you have bigger problems, which you
should address immediately by hiring an
attorney to rewrite your future contracts.
a good contract between photographer and
client should state, at a minimum, that 1) the
photographer owns the copyrights in all images
produced, 2) that only the pictures edited and
chosen by the photographer are considered
final product, and 3) that no final product will
be delivered until the full balance is paid.
Aaron M. Arce Stark is a lawyer for artists and
This article is for informational purposes only
and should not be construed as legal advice.
Simple to set up, ready to shoot
Get creative by putting the model
inside the HiLite
Can be used as a high key background