Who Owns Your Website?
Article source: http://inspedium.blogspot.com/. Used with author's permission.
It seems like a pretty easy question to answer, but you'd be surprised at how many times the answer doesn't turn out the way you might think.
Several years ago a client contracted with us because they were dissatisfied with their current website and wanted one that they could easily update themselves.
When we started to work on their website we discovered several things. Their previous Webmaster had created their logo (they paid him to create it), which they had on their website, but also on all of their business cards, brochures and on their entire product line.
When they contacted their Webmaster, to let him know that they were going to have their website redone by Archer Strategic Alliances, he told them that he owned the copyright on their logo and that they could no longer use it! It seems that the person who creates a "work of art" owns the copyright to it. They hadn't thought to specify in their contract with him that they had a perpetual, irrevocable and exclusive right to use it.
Another client had paid a Webmaster to build a website for their in-home care business. The webmaster had done so, but had used a program that wrote the web page's code in a non-standard manner. It worked on one browser - Internet Explorer - but it didn't work on Netscape. Then the Webmaster wanted to get paid additional amounts to modify the code.
Recently a new client contracted to have their website re-done. While gathering the information necessary, we discovered that their previous Webmaster had registered the client's Domain Name - their "www" - in HIS name, and that he was the owner of that Domain Name. It didn't matter that the Domain Name was the same as their business name - he OWNED it!
Fortunately, he was an ethical Webmaster who had registered it in his own name just for the convenience of doing so and to be sure that the client knew when to renew the name.
You can check the ownership of your domain name by going to a "Whois" database. We use www.BetterWhois.com. You may have to enter a security code which will be provided by the Whois.
You should be able to see Domain Name's Owner (called the Registrant), the Registrar (the organization that is used to register the Domain Name), when it was registered and for how long and also the Status. For security's sake the Status should be "Register-Lock" which will prevent someone from fraudulently transferring your Domain Name.
Another important thing to find out from your Webmaster is if your Domain Name is in an account under your name, and what the Username and Password is. Be sure that it is in your contract that the Webmaster will not change the Username and Password without your written consent. You also need to know WHERE the files for your website are hosted as well as the Username and Password to access or change these files (which may be different from your Domain Name password).
So the question for you is: Who owns your logo or other website artwork and who owns your Domain Name? Steve Freedman of Archer Strategic Alliances develops business websites and Search Engine Optimization. He is the author of a PC Security eBook "Help! Something's Got Hold of My Computer and It Won't Let Go!" available at http://www.HelpProtectMyComputer.com.