So a couple years ago I did a website for a "client/friend" that was starting a business. I purchased the domain and put it on my hosting. I also did all his branding and marketing for free. He never gave me any money for the domain or the hosting or for doing any of the work. There was also never
So a couple years ago I did a website for a "client/friend" that was starting a business. I purchased the domain and put it on my hosting. I also did all his branding and marketing for free. He never gave me any money for the domain or the hosting or for doing any of the work. There was also never anything in writing stating that he owns the website or that I was even making the website for him.
He contacted me the other day asking for me to give the login information for the hosting so he can hire another designer. I can't give him that because I have other client websites on the hosting. My question is who legally "owns" the website? Can I charge him to give over rights to the domain?
Who Owns My Website
First thing I would do is to let the "New" web person know how you were treated, as I'm sure they will get the same thing done to them. Warning them is strictly legit.(and they'd be stupid to want to work for someone with a history of stiffing their contractors!)
As far as the rest, you did the work and it's in your name. You also OWN that other person's domain name. You can go in and erase everything in the site if you want and there's not a thing he can do about it. If he wants that domain name, he can pay you for it. (you set the price) There isn't a court in the land that would support his claims, as the registration being in your name makes you the legal and only owner.
Back years ago when domain names first became available, there were companies that invested thousands of dollars creating and paying for domain names that big corporations might want. They then offered them for sale to those same companies. First come = first served in the domain business. Doesn't matter how long your name has been around, if someone registers a domain in your name before you, it it their property. (you can register something close, but not exactly the same.) Only exact names as copyrighted and trademarked go to the company who had them the longest in court and then only as far as products with their label.
IE: Something like John Smith Company.com can not be registered by a second person. Whoever has their name on the original domain registration owns it, until they create a formal bill of sale stating that they sold it to someone else and change the registered owner to the new owner's name. (No one else can change it except the actual registered owner.) Someone else can use John J. Smith, or J.Smith, or even John Smith Inc., but not John Smith Company.
It's your account its running on. He has no legal right to be able to access the hosting service. The domain name, although you registered it, is probably legally his as you obtained it specifically for him. If you did not charge him for it, it will be considered as a gift.
Regarding the actual website, the actual code of the website will be your copyright material although the information displayed by the site will be his except for any 'Site provided by …' type information.
If he wants to pass the site design to another person, you can suggest that the new designer finds his own hosting site and you can copy the site to a DVD for an appropriate large fee. You should also make the new designer sign to say that any of your code can only be used for the specific website. Never release the your login information about your hosting site. Just sell them a copy of the site on DVD and make as much as you can from the deal.
I hope this helps.
You own the domain and all copyright in the work you did for him.
You are not obliged to hand any of it it over to him.
You might agree to hand over whatever is of no use to you for a fee.
If he wants to pay you to continue hosting, that would be fair.
If he wants it to be hosted elsewhere, that's his choice though he might have to get his content recreated from scratch unless he is willing to buy your work from you.
My guess is that you will not enter into such a casual relationship in the future. That's OK. If we've got any sense, we all learn from our mistakes.
You own the work on the website but if the domain name is for his company then he could stop you using his domain and claim it back (but not the content of the website, just the domain name).
It would be best if you offer to sell it to him at a reasonable price.
Many stories in your same boat. It's your content, hosted by you. Don't let it go without being rightly paid for your worth of it.
You own it mate, unless there's some proof that he paid for it or some kind of agreement was made. Yes you can charge him for it.