Liability & Accountability- The Unaltered State
What's all this talk about liability? People seem to think that just because technology has changed, the lines of responsibility have merged, crossed, faded or completely disappeared. They haven't; they remain just as clear now as they were in the analog world.
It is true that production functions have been altered by digital influences. Publishers are doing prepress. Prepress shops are printing, and printers are processing ads. It's a crazy, mixed-up world. Still, that doesn't change the fact that whoever prepares a page—whether it's produced from film or digitally, whether it's created in-house or oustourced—the file creator must be held responsible for ensuring that it is accurately prepared. The recipient of a digital file bears the burden of ensuring that what it has received meets established specifications and that's it's error free.
Admittedly, digital technologies are relatively new, and ensuring an error-free workflow is not as easy as it was with film. After all, equipment within the workflow still speaks various languages. A native application or PostScript file may be interpreted one way by the RIP used to create the file but translated differently by the RIP used to create the proof. If this is the case, extra precautions need to be taken during production to ensure that inconsistencies are identified and remedied.
When all is said and done, responsibility lies in the hands of the file creator to ensure its accuracy. Just as film was checked before it left the agency or prep house, a file should be preflighted before it is forwarded to a publisher.
When the file reaches the publisher, additional precautionary measures should be in place, as well. Preflighting software will indicate whether or not the file was prepared correctly and to the publisher's specs. Color bars on the proof will ensure adherence to SWOP standards. A black-and-white laser proof will reveal if the proof that you received from the advertiser was, in fact, generated directly from the file. It's unadvisable for publishers to forego any of these processes, unless, of course, you actually like makegoods. These measures limit your liability.