I hope someone can shed some light on this subject. My wife is a graphic designer who was on retainer for two years for a real estate firm. She has been taken off retainer, and now the client has asked for all the original artwork. She tried to explain that she owns the original artwork and the original agreement clearly stated that she would supply them with "camera ready" artwork. The original agreement was for 90 days and since they have beeen on a verbal agreement with the same terms. There was never a work for hire agreement and she was paid 1099 as an independent contractor. After being threatened to have his attorney handle this, my wife even agreed to give them the original artwork but she wants to be paid for the time it takes to organize all the files.
My wife just got a call from his attorney basically just saying "Turn over all the files. He already paid you when you were on retainer and he is not going to pay you to organize the files".
Here are my questions:
Am I right, does she own all the artwork?
Should we now say "fine, all deals are off, we don't want to give or sell you the artwork" ( because they are being jerks) and go to court?
Should we now try to stop them from reusing any of her original artwork? They have in house designers that are reusing images all the time in ads etc.
If we decide to fight this can we recover all our legal fees if we win?
Any answers would be very appreciated. We really can't afford to hire an attorney, but this whole situation makes me want to stand up and fight! I'm so sick of these guys who think just because they make a lot of money and have attorneys on retainer, that they can get away with whatever they want.