Many clients have paid good money to have their functional website developed and designed. However, it is important for them to know whether they really own the website. In some cases, the person who performs the development work is the one who owns the website. This problem won’t happen if clients create their own website, after buying domain name and storage hosting spaces on their own. Often, the development team is also contracted to purchase the domain name and other legal proceeding related to this factor. It is important for clients to make sure that they in charge of their own website.
The web development contract should clearly specify who owns the domain name and the website itself. The contract should be signed by the client, web developer and if possible, the web hosting provider. The Copyright Act clearly specifies that the actual author of the website is the developers, but the real owner of the website should be the person who initiate and fund the project, specifically the client. This also applies whether the developer is an outsourced professional or works as an employee in the company. In this case, clients should make sure that they have the copyright for the completed work.
Unfortunately, rigid ownership of the work can be unacceptable for many developers. These developers may have their own code modules for specific features and website structure. They can be reused on multiple projects, especially on websites with modular designs. Clients may demand that all the codes become their legal ownership. This could potentially prevent web developers from reusing their own codes on future projects. Developers should be clear about this requirement. It means that they would need to create new codes from scratch, especially if clients are willing to provide the time and financial compensation for that.
It is important to assign specific areas on the contract agreement on the proper ownership of the website. Good contract will preserve the copyright and ownership of specific elements of the website for both developers and clients. Simple sentences are not enough. It is also important for us to properly define things that we want to have. Uncertain copyright ownership could devastate online business operations. Unsuspecting clients could find that their previous developers have claimed ownership of the website, because it is mentioned somewhere in the contract agreement.
Developers should also have their rights protected. If clients are too restrictive in asking for all components of their website as their own, it means that they are unable to gain many things. Bad impacts could happen on our business and this is something that we should try to avoid whenever possible. We should try to address this issue properly and we should have the practical solutions if legal conflicts eventually occur.
From the developer’s standpoint, they should know when they should be able to use templates and when they should build a website from scratch. Regardless of the method they use, it is important to discuss with the client about the duration of the project, because building things from scratch will take longer to complete.