Who Owns Your Website?

Don’t assume you do just because you paid someone to design a site for you. 

Because this is a legal issue you will want to discuss the details with your attorney.  But here are some general thoughts.

Content that is supplied by the company is generally owned by that company.  However, the HTML used to create the website could be considered programming and falls under the category of software.  Software developers generally own what they created, unless there is a contract that states otherwise.  Add-ons such as JavaScript, Flash, and ASP might also be considered programming that is only licensed by you, not owned.  

Make sure you have a contract that specifies what you will and will not own.  Why is this important?  There are two main reasons - 1) the website is an asset of the company but if you don’t own it, you can’t sell it. 2) should you decide to use another designer or hosting company you will want your files.  Otherwise you would have to start from scratch.

November 1, 2005

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