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Who Owns a Website


Jimbo50

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When a website is designed/built for you and paid for, who owns it and what rights do you have if you want to move it from the designers host or other host to another company to administer it?

Also what problems can be associated with this action?

Your help would be apreciated as I am a non technical person when it comes to the back end of websites.

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Ansolan

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Hi

The post above by Forum Editor is solid advice and the way to go. Bear in mind search is my field not the law but fairly well established as far as I know.

Unless there are unusual contractual terms (which seems unlikely here). If a designer builds a site for you, once you have paid in full the site belongs to you, content, design, copyright etc. Many developers feel they maintain rights but unless specifically agreed they do not. Enforcing that with no contract plus arguments about extra work may not however be easy.

The domain is a different issue and is a separate legal entity to the site (the files/database). The fact one sits on the other does not confer any legal right as such.

Best move is as others mentioned to try to come to a settlement, even if this means a small payment and even if that feels wrong. Might be cheaper than the alternatives. A little late I know but as stated above and largely for anyone falling upon this, never ever have a website built without a clear and well defined contract.

If you get nowhere, there are a couple of places that might help. Sounds as if the domain is yours and secure but in case:

click here

They are decent people and help free to a fair extent. There is also a specialist website dispute outfit who offer a degree of free help:

click here

Not sure what the exact situation is there but advice is at no cost by the look of things. They also have a separate legal help unit but doesn't seem to be linked as far as I can see, you'll have to ask them.

Still better to avoid both of course, if you do own the domain (sounds likely)that's one problem gone. If you can get hold of the files at any time do so, although if a dispute is in the air, best to get a sign off from the developer.

Bit concerned about how the situation is/might be re pointing the domain, depends what is meant. Also on the host, there have been issues with Presta Shop and a few hosts, including yours and 1&1 I believe. If they are not resolved, might be worth moving to a host who is used to/promotes Presta Shop. Also then likely to see more support if needed.

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Forum Editor

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this designer can't just upload the site to your alternative hosting account.

Give him the login details, ask him to upload, and then, when everything is working OK, change the hosting access password. It's a common approach - there's no advantage to you in having the site pointed to your domain name from another server. The advantage to the designer is that he retains control of the site files, and that's not what you want at all. He could at any time prevent your site from working. It's happened many times before, and is a way that site designers can use to hold a gun to a client's head in a dispute.

It's your site, your domain name, and once this man has been paid his design fee he must relinquish control of the site.

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Taff™

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It sounds to me as if you`re right about the redirect script referred to. This means that the designer still has overall control of the hosting which is no doubt where he may still require some form of payment - resist it. Why would you pay for the hosting of your own domain that has a simple redirect script on it and then pay him for hosting the site on his servers?

He mentioned something in the other post: "as this would prevent most of the functionality of the site from working and would have broken it, as the paths would have changed." This suggests to me that it`s been set up incorrectly or that as he alludes, the site is incompatible with your hosting service which I believe is 123Reg.

Rule number one when designing a site like this is check the compatibility with the host server first. It`s fundamental to the end result. I can also understand that it might be several hours work to rectify the incorrect paths assuming it was possible to ensure compatibility but this isn`t your fault!

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Jimbo50

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Taff

Thanks for your response, I was repling to the FE when your message came in, all sound advice from you. I will put some words together and see what the outcome is.

I will let you all know the outcome because as you both say I am not the only one to heve been in this situation and the advice you have given has been superb.
Cheers

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Jimbo50

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Forum Editor

Many thanks for your response it has given me some hope in how to resolve this situation.
The one problem I think I have to resolve is the statement from the designer saying,

"I have created a configuration script for your hosting server, which I have tested and does work, which will allow the new site to appear under the original domain name, without having to move the site. This effectively allows the site to go live.”

I do not no what this means but it sounds like he is going to point my site in some way to the hosting site while still maintining the site on his server.

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Taff™

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I was hoping FE might offer some sound advice as he has far greater experience in this. I`d also concur with the negotiation route. In my experience, when a business relationship breaks down, there are no winners if it comes to reading Terms and Conditions and small print and in this case you don`t have any anyway.

Lay down clearly what you believe you paid the designer for and what you expected the end result to be. A website designed and handed over to you.

If you are happy that the site is operational and to your satisfaction on his test server ask him for a copy of it or full ftp access which should allow you to download it to your own computer.

I`d then look at finding another supplier to advise you about it`s functionality and transfer it to your domain server. This shouldn`t cost a fortune and as we`ve said, put something in writing this time. It doesn`t have to be written by a lawyer and plain language setting out the task and your expectations from a reputable web designer should be met with a clear statement that they recognise your needs and that they will do it for a set fee. Let us know how you go on.

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Forum Editor

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Generally speaking copyright in the site will be vested in the designer/developer.

When you pay a web designer to create a site, the work will usually be done in server space paid for by the designer, or on the designer's dedicated space. You are in effect paying for a service, in the same way you would pay a graphic artist to design a letterhead, or a company ad. There's nothing to 'own' as far as you're concerned until the finished site is handed over to you by the designer, and that normally happens when the designer publishes the work to a domain name on a web server. At that point the person who paid for the domain name, the server space and the design fee 'owns' the site - copyright passes from the designer to the client - in this case, you.

You've highlighted a common problem when you say "We did not have a formal agreement signed". Many a dispute over web design projects could be avoided if there was a document in existence. You say that "we agreed a price for the completing the site" however, and that's better than nothing; a verbal agreement can make a binding contract.

The big problem in all cases like this is that you have to get your hands on the site - the code that exists on the development server.If you have access to the server you can transfer the whole lot to your computer using FTP (file transfer protocol), and that will preserve the file structure. You can then publish to a web server, provided you have the domain name hosted somewhere, and it sounds as though you have.

If you can't access the site files you have a big problem. The designer is holding the ace card, and although you have a verbal contract it will be a tricky process to enforce it - your word against his.

It sounds as if you're in the right, but that's not always good enough. My advice is to try to negotiate your way out of this. tell the designer that we're advising you, it might help.

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Jimbo50

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Sorry Taff
This started out with what I thought was two subjects but now have seemed to merge into one, but I still need two solutions.

The jist of it is I feel I am being screwed for more funding and I wanted to know what it involves to change everything back to me basically. I have paid for it, is it mine?

Yes the new site is on test and can be viewed but I obviously didn't want to put those details in.

123Reg have also questioned the statement:
"I have created a configuration script for your hosting server, which I have tested and does work, which will allow the new site to appear under the original domain name, without having to move the site. This effectively allows the site to go live.”

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Taff™

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Dual posting click here Let`s keep the main answers in this posting because t`s more on the technical side of web hosting.

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Taff™

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I presume it`s on a test site somewhere that the Web Designer hosts. If it is complete to your satisfaction you should ask him to transfer it to replace your existing site. Or another domain you own and host) I can`t see why he should object. What`s the issue?

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