Do You Own Your Web Site Design?
Your web site has been up for a few months and you are making money hand over foot. While surfing sites one evening, you are shocked to find a competitor using your design. You find out your designer sold them the same design. They must be breaking the law, right? It all depends on whether you own the copyright to your web site design. Many site owners are shocked to find out they do not.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is a method of protection for authors of original works such as literature, computer programs, music, artistic pieces and photographic images. The protection provided by copyright arises under Title 17 of the United States Code. A copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to do or authorize others to: reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, publicly display and generally use the material that carries the copyright in exchange for something, typically a royalty or fee. The copyright owner often grants this use through a license agreement, but can sell it outright.
Who Can Claim Copyright?
Copyright protection is created IMMEDIATELY upon the creation of a fixed form of the material in question and granted to the person that created the material. For instance, I automatically own the copyright to this article upon completing it. I am not required to file for an official copyright with the US Copyright Office to prove that I am the owner of the content. However, if I want to sue a person for using my article without permission, I must first register it.
What If I Hire Someone To Create A Web Site For Me?
If you hire a person or company to handle the design of your site, the complexities of copyright become a major issue for you. Specifically, the issue of "work for hire" is critical in determining whether you own the design.
"Work for hire" refers to the relationship between your business and the person creating your web site. If this person is an employee of your business and creates the material within their scope of employment, then your business owns the copyright. However, what happens when the designer is not an employee? In such a situation, the following must occur for the copyright to automatically transfer to you. The work must be specially ordered or commissioned for use as:
It is my opinion that the design of a web site does not fall into any of the above categories. As a result, you do not own the copyright to the design and can do nothing about the fact that one of your competitors is using the design. Obviously, this is not the answer that most site owners want to hear. So, what can you do to protect your business?
When you hire an outside party to design, alter, amend or improve your site, you must have them sign a written contract. The contract must include a clause clearly establishing that the copyright to the material produced is vested with you, not the designer. You should then file the contract with your important documents as some designers "forget" that assigned the copyright to you. Presenting a copy of the contract and noting that it allows for the recovery of attorney's fees usually solves the problem.
The issue of copyright ownership of a web site or aspect of a site pops up often. Finding your design being used on another domain is bad enough, but it can get worse. If you sell your business, the attorney for the party purchasing your business will always ask about the copyright of the site as part of the due diligence process. More than a few business deals have fallen apart when the lack of copyright ownership is discovered. Obtaining copyright at the outset of your business effort will avoid serious problems in the future.
About The Author
Richard Chapo, Esq., is with http://www.sandiegobusinesslawfirm.com offering business law advice to California businesses. This article is for general education purposes and does not address every facet of the subject matter. Nothing in this article creates an attorney-client relationship.
Increase Your Credibility With Web Site Awards
Web Site Awards are given from other sites to reward your site for a specific reason. They will usually give you an award graphic or text link to include on your site if you win. Awards are great to display on your Web site because they will give your business more credibility to your visitors and customers.
Website Design: Color Me Blue
Chris, a new consulting client, asked me to help him increase sales on his affiliate marketing site.
Designing Professional Web Pages
If your Web site doesn't project a professional and polished image to your visitors, your credibility and that of your products and services will suffer. Image is everything -- especially online where your competitor is only one mouse click away!
The Secrets to Successfully Learning Basic HTML
If you'd like to create/maintain a website, having some HTML knowledge is necessary in order to create a standard page on the web. Learning the HTML basics is easy and should take less than an hour.
Graphic Design Can Make or Break Your Web Site
We all want high impact graphics for our Web sites - Right.
Plugging the Dreaded World Wide Web Black Hole is Just the First Step
You have created your custom error page so now all of that traffic that use to go into the World Wide Web black hole now stays on your web page. But if you don't do the following 15 Minute exercise once or twice a month you are not Maximizing those Lost visitors
Stop Sabotaging Your Sales
Do your web pages, sales letters or personal presentations include subtle distractions that unnecessarily cause you to lose sales?
Affordable Website Design In Manchester
If you have a business, big or small you may be thinking of getting yourself a website.
Design Matters in our Visual Culture
Caveat Scriptor: Use the Advice of Those Who Know Before You Build a Site
~A man [woman] is a success if he [she] gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he [she] does what he [she] wants to do. Bob Dylan~
The Best Simple Software For The Busy Webmaster
Here are a few programs I can't do without. They're free, and make being a webmaster much easier.
Converting Print Advertising For Use On The Web - A How-To
Contrary to the beliefs of some, advertising for web and print are very different. Converting print ads for use on the web is very tricky. What has been very successful on paper may have no impact at all on the screen. When I am asked "How do I convert my print ads to web?" my answer is simple: don't! Web and print are so vastly different that I believe you should never build your web pages based on a print ad.
Hexadecimal Color Notation on the Web
When designing elements for your webpage, you will often be called upon to specify a color. For example, the code for a span shown below specifies that the color of the text within the span will be yellow.
Explode Your Homepage And Replace It With Something Dynamite!
You know that I'm always extolling the virtues of an all-round website marketing approach that doesn't just focus on search engines? Well, you'll be suprised to hear there's a big problem with this.
Web Page Building for Beginners 2
A search engine robot actually reads the wording on your web pages and places a certain amount of importance on what the content says, but not quite like a human does. A human will place the words together in their head and try to decipher the relevancy to them personally and decide within a few seconds whether they will continue reading or click to another site, whereas a robot counts words and places all relevancy in the numbers it finds. It also gives extra credit to the size of the type and title of each page.
5 Ways To Improve Your Website Immediately
If you are reading this, I assume you either have your own website or planning to get one. Either way, these 5 tips can help you create a better business website immediately. They'll help you draw more repeat visitors and help visitors find their way around easily on your website. When that happens, you sell more of your products and services!
Web Design: How To Get Your Visitors To Stay
Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come"? In the world of Internet marketing, you not only want them to come, you want them to stay.
Sales Versus Customer Oriented Websites
Should Generating Revenue From A Website Be The Prime Motivator?
Attention Grabbing Web Design Will Kill Your Sale!
In the of-line marketing world it is all about trying to get the attention of the potential consumer to a commercial message.
Website Maintenance: What Does it Take to Manage Your Website?
Every action has a beginning phase where you launch your activity, a middle period in which you must sustain and develop it and a conclusion. Many people set up a website enthusiastically but then they find that they don't have the skills or knowledge to maintain and develop it. So, what are the challenges in this middle phase of a website's life and how can you meet them?