Having a website created for a business or a brand is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Even simple websites with minimal pages and functionality can cost thousands of dollars in design and hosting fees before it goes live on the web.
But what happens down the road when the website owner wants to go a new direction with their content, branding, design, or online marketing? Or, what happens when the site owner wants to work with a different company altogether than the original site creators?
Unfortunately, if the website owner is not careful, they run the risk of losing everything they paid for and worked so hard to create if they terminate their relationship with the person or company that helped design the site.
You may be wondering how it’s possible for someone else to claim ownership to or even delete and/or refuse to transfer a website that YOU paid for. Unfortunately, it’s easy when a contract does not address who owns the underlying intellectual property, such as copyrights to the content and design, or that the website creator has the hosting and/or domain set up in his or her name.
It’s a common and costly mistake that forces the site owner into two difficult choices: 1) begrudgingly continue the relationship with the original site creator or 2) abandon the website and start over with one you own.
If you are reading this blog and find yourself in hostage category “2” today, the following are tips are designed to help you take back control of your website and your intellectual property indefinitely.
Register Your Own Domain Name
You can register your own domain name with registrars such as GoDaddy, ipage, etc. for about $10 to $15 per year. The domain name itself may initially cost more, depending on the popularity of the URL you are trying to acquire. If you are working with a website development company to create a website, make sure they know that you want to create your own account so that you control your domain name.
Choose Your Own Hosting Company
Every website needs to “live” somewhere. Web hosting companies like HostGator offer technologies and services that are needed to get your website on the Internet. This is also very inexpensive – typically about $10 per month. Some website development companies “require” that you host your website on their systems. Steer clear of them. Be sure to work with a company that allows you to create and maintain the web host account for your site. When you work with a web designer, you’ll simply allow them to use your login. This will give them access without surrendering ownership control.
Ensure Ownership of Your Content
Some website development companies offer to write the copy that is on your website. That is fine, provided you have a clear agreement that states you own the copyright to any content created on your behalf. This helps to ensure that if you part ways with the company who was writing for you, you can continue to use the work product of your past relationship on your site without consequence.
We’ve seen it all over the years, and trust us– you do not want to get into a tug-of-war with a website company over your website. Instead, we advise you to do your homework and make sure to ask the right questions at the start of any working relationship. That way you can rest easy knowing your website is really, truly yours. If you have additional questions or you need help with a copyright ownership dispute, please feel free to contact our law firm at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.