The Myths & Reality about Web Site Ownership

By: Linda Runstein


Did you know that unlike other forms of published creative works associated with ownership of print and media, a web site is "NOT" part of that standard process. The internet, the World Wide Web itself, doesn't claim any ownership to the trillions of sites nesting in it's universe like cyberspace. The conflict or should I say, confusion over who does own the rights to a web site is simply understanding the myths versus realities of published works on the net.

Myth: If you paid for the creation of a web site, you own the design not the web designer.

Reality: The web designer owns the copyright unless they otherwise agree to sell the copyright to the client. Of course, this only pertains to independent web designers. It is not the case if an employee builds and maintains their employer's web site, the company and or employer owns the rights.

Myth: If you paid for the creation of a web site, then you own all the content including custom graphics & designs, any and all interactive tools, trademarks, etc.

Reality: You only own the content that belonged to you that you provided to the web designer for the site. All other content is owned by the web designer who created the works, and by all third parties that provided additional elements who own the rights, but by agreement, are part of the design of the site.

Myth: You should purchase the domain name for registration in your name and not the web company for registration in their name, so not to hold your domain hostage.

Reality: Any and all reputable web designers provide ' Client Option' for domain name registration. Who owns the domain name is only important if the rights to the site, by agreement, will be sold to the client.

Myth: If you paid for the creation of a web site, you yourself have the sole right to publish it on the internet.

Reality: The web designer is the only one who has the sole right to publish the site to the internet. If you purchased, by agreement, the copyright, then and only then do you have the sole right to publish it on the internet.

Myth: You should have the hosting company in your name with Login/User ID, password information in case the web company decides to take the site down.

Reality: Any and all reputable web designers provide all hosting information, which usually is stated in the contract agreement. If you own the rights to the site, you most certainly have the right to host the site with what ever hosting company you choose. As for a reputable web company suddenly and without provocation taking the site down. It just doesn't happen.

Myth: The web designer must provide you with FTP Access Code, Username, Login ID/Password in case something happens to the web company or you want to switch companies.

Reality: Again, any and all reputable web designers will provide you this information. But if you don't own the rights, you or another web designer you hire, are not allowed to access the site. If you decide you want to go with another company, unless you purchased the rights, the new company you hire will be designing you a whole new site.

Myth: You should keep in your possession a copy of the web site.

Reality: The nature of a web site is to be in a constant flux, taking advantage of the web's fluid and flexible nature. A site's main design along with updated content must change at least every 8 to 12 months in order for the site to be useful on a continuous basis. Therefore how the overall site was first designed will have changed over and over again. A reliable web designer that's maintaining the site will keep a backup of the site as the site is updated. What you most likely will utilize is a copy of the site on a CD for promotional purposes, but you will need a new CD made as the site itself changes.

Also, for anyone to pay a few thousand dollars for the copyright to a web site that continually must change in order to be of use, makes no sense. If complete ownership is important to you for what ever reasons you have, then it would make more sense to pay to take a course in IT and web design and therefore design and maintain your own site.

Companies and individuals who hire a web designer, do so, because they don't have the skills to design and maintain the site themselves. Even though there are plenty of non-skilled individuals building sites of their own using web design tools provided on the web, these self-built sites are strictly amateurish.

Thus the all important reality is . . . a well designed, successful web site is literally a partnership between the reliable, skilled person who created and maintains it and the non-skilled person who wants the advantage of an internet presence, making good use of it.

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Linda Jean Runstein is a business consultant & web designer who has served a wide-range of businesses over the years. To find out how she can help you and your business online go to .www.troubleshooterconsulting.com

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