When engaging a design agency, what are the usual terms of business regarding who owns the design rights (i.e. the working design files not just the copyright to use the material produced) to the finished work?
I [a marketing consultant] am playing piggy in the middle between an agency and my client at the moment and can't work out whose view on this issue is correct.
i'm not sure about agencies, but as a freelance designer I sometimes provide the source files free to clients I really like, or if not I provide them for a fee to clients that piss me off! I have it expressly in my terms and conditions on my website that a fee is payable.
the designers should have terms and conditions available on their website or in their contract, if these aren't explicit there may be room for manouverability or meeting them in the middle?
You need to agree all parts of the contract at the same time. The working files belong to the designer unless they are working inhouse. I usually quote to include these files when it comes to logos but never for other marketing materials unless specifically requested.
If you or your client will require them, they would be charged for. It makes a difference to how a designer puts together the quote.
Quite often a design will include copyrighted files, such as fonts, illustrations and photographs. The designer might have paid for usage but can't transfer the ownership. Design files require these non-transferable files in order for the links to work. So it's not a simple case of buying one file from the designer. On top of that, the file sizes of unflattened photoshop files are huge!
I charge for raw/base files because there is often a lot of extra work involved in packaging them for re-use.