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Freedom vs. Free

12 Jun, 2009 McKell Naegle


I recently came back from the National AIGA retreat in Portland Oregon in which the issue of spec work has again been revisited.

This is a very important topic right now and the web has had an big impact on traditional business practices. The internet has always meant freedom. Freedom to share, find and explore information. Freedom inherently implies free. We have seen more and more free music, free advice and free software.

While freedom is important aspect of the internet, and the freedom of creative expression is always important, offering free design embodies inherent risks in our profession.
There are implications on the quality of the outcome, intellectual property rights and economic fairness.

AIGA has released it’s official position on spec work to inform the public, business and design community of these potential risks.
While this is a very broad topic and will continue to generate discussion, I felt it important to post the AIGA’s position on spec work and the link to how the ethical standards are determined.

AIGA, the professional association for design, believes that professional designers should be compensated fairly for the value of their work and should negotiate the ownership or use rights of their intellectual and creative property through an engagement with clients.

AIGA acknowledges that speculative work occurs among clients and designers. Instead of working speculatively, AIGA strongly encourages designers to enter into projects with full engagement to continue to show the value of their creative endeavor. Designers and clients should be aware of all potential risks before entering into speculative work.

AIGA is committed to informing designers, students, educators, clients and the general public on the risks of compromising the design process though information, materials and services that can help in forging a healthy working relationship between designers and their clients.

For AIGA’s position on spec work, types of uncompensated work, risks to clients and designers, the history or restrictions and policy, and other resources, see AIGA’s position on spec work

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