Originally Posted by coachcdobbs
Has anyone here ever had this problem with an engineer or a studio, and if so, please elaborate...
We have had the opposite problem, of engineers not being bothered to give the customer the one thing they needed the most, but rather seeing themselves as the bringer of magic mixes that the customer does not want or need. If these people are working on my dime, they do not get invited back.
Some customers want a mixed project, but even those that do, end up re-editing and mixing the whole thing in the long run, if the project is worth anything at all.
As Narcoman points out, those tracks are your property. They are as much your property as your car or the clothes you wear. Not only should you have possession of them, but the studio is under a legal obligation to take reasonable care of them. i.e. not delete them and keep a back-up, etc.
In this particular case, you must point out to your pet engineer that you are fully aware of your property rights. There still are a few engineers and others in the business that honestly think that the tracks are not your property, but the property of the studio or the producer or whatever they have in their heads. They are being paid for a service, in EXACTLY the same way that a garage is being paid to repair your car, or the US Mail is paid to deliver a package, or a vet is paid to operate on a horse.
In all these cases, possession of the property does not mean ownership. Just as it is necessary for the US Mail to possess your package, the garage to repair your car and the vet to hold your horse, it is obviously necessary for the studio to possess the tracks. Once the service has been completed and no other arrangements have been agreed upon, all the above have to hand back the property to the owner. Not only does the studio have to hand over the tracks, but they have to be handed over in a proper and fitting manner. Just as the garage has to hand back your car so that it is foit to drive, the US Mail has to keep the package intact and the vet has to hand your horse back in one piece, the studio has to hand you the tracks AS THEY WERE RECORDED and as time stamped (AKA 'broadcast') WAV or AIFF files - and not doctored or altered in any way (unless agreed upon by you).
And that applies, even if the bill has not been settled!
Failure to hand property to the owner can result in a prosecution for theft.
As in all things, there are exceptions (look up the word 'lien') but in the US a lien has to be exercised by an officer of a court of law and only in those states where such a measure is possible. The misuse of a lien (e.g. to apply pressure for more money than agreed upon) is a criminal offence.