As a business owner you have an obligation to protect the assets of your business but one that may overlook is their website. Just as you put a lock on the front door, obtain contract proving ownership of your vehicles and machinery, so too should you ensure you own your website.
Now this may seem a silly statement to some because you know you paid your web developer to build your site and you assume you own it. Not necessarily. Paying for services does not, by default mean you own the copyright or Intellectual Property for the goods received. Unless you have a contract or the web developer’s terms and conditions specifically state the fact, copyright and IP remains with the person who provided the service unless specifically transferred. This also includes the graphic elements and any data provided by the developer.
It is a reasonably straight forward matter however it can become more complex subject to the material you have in your site. For a starter, ensure that when you negotiate with your web developer that they have clauses covering the transfer of all copyright and Intellectual Property at the completion of the job.
If your web developer has provided images for insertion they will also need to make some sort of statement in the contract to the effect that you have rights to use the images within the site and that if they have in fact used any material from other sources in building your website that they have the rights to use that material and include it within your website. This is where it can become complicated because you simply may not know what your developer has used to create your site. This is why having them make a statement to the fact that they have only employed material to which they have the right to use is important.
Another aspect not commonly understood is where you web developer has built your site from a commercial template – a practice more commonly followed than you may believe, especially with low price solutions. You need to find out from your developer whether they are using templates and that the use of any such templates is permitted within your site. The flip side to this is that you may not have the right to replicate your site or make modifications to that template. For instance say you purchase a Wordpress site based on a particular template and then decide to deploy that same site in a fully featured CMS. You may not have the rights to copy your current site’s design to your new CMS for your new website.
The opinions offered here are not to be construed as legal advice as Top Left Designs are not qualified to do so however, we strongly suggest that you check with your own legal resources before committing to any contract for developing your website. Any reputable web developer will have standard contracts and terms and conditions which provide for this and it should be relatively simple to check these.
All our websites include the transfer of copyright and IP as standard to our client for web solution development. In certain cases we do employ pre-designed templates of our own design and are therefore able to allow transfer of all rights to use these designs. If you have any concerns about your own current development project then we are quite happy to discuss the matter with you and assist as we can.