Distributing Custom ICC profiles-Pro's and Cons


I just returned from the the GATF Color Management conference, and at the end of of the conference wrap up, Dave Hunter suggested making our profiles available to our customers to help them soft proof their files prior to submitting them to us for printing. We are a wide format printing company, and run 4 different ink jet devices.

My first topic for discussion is whether this is legal to do. It seems to me in the EULA of our profiling software I read that the profiles could NOT be distributed to third parties.

My second topic for discussion is, assuming it IS legal, is there a way to dumb down the profile so our competition (should they want to), can’t get one of our profiles to use on their machines? Can the profile we generate be modified to only provide the information that will accomplish a screen preview?

My third point of discussion is to question whether anyone is doing this, what pitfalls and suprises they have run into, and how they have managed the process of educating their clients on soft proofing using a custom ICC.

By the way, Steve Upton, nice job on the introduction of the new ColorThink program. Looks like a great toolbox. I’ll be upgrading this week.

I’d love our competition to try to use the profiles off my presses. :slight_smile: Their stuff would look awful because the machines are calibrated differently, use different inks and have different behaviors, use different stock, etc.
A profile is like a fingerprint.

THAT first part of your post opens up a can of worms IMHO…

it assumes the customers start with an image in a correct color space, have profiled/calibrated monitors, standard viewing conditions, and an understanding of soft proofing (and understand the limitations therein).

We print thousands of large format images a year off our equipment covering everything from canvas to buildings, buses, jets, tractor-trailers, etc. We get art from Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, all the way down to ‘Mom & Pop, Inc.’
We send out profiles to agencies when they have proven to me that they know what they’re doing. I offer every time but am usually met with silence at the other end, then a nice, ‘No thanks.’
It’s the generic profiles that will get you in trouble.
Sad part is that many agencies have no clue what a profile is.

One pitfall I am always wary of is when these people get a profile I built and work on a crappy monitor. They send me a file thinking they have corrected it. Sad part is they have printed something on their desktop printer to serve as a proof, then match their screen to the printer (which usually screws the file all up). Then i get to charge $85 an hour to fix something that would have probably worked had I not given them my profile.

We tried several years ago to give some people we do some business with a primer on color management, proper file setup, etc but the majority just glazed over.

They were not receptive to investing the dollars to get to a point where color management would help them. We’re at a point now where they just let us do what we need to do. They send the files and a proof and let us do our thing.