Trading Services for a Simple Link Back
I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this in, but I had a question and was hoping to get some advice on what to do about it.
I did a 'free' site recently for a friend of one of my paying clients. I had done some paying banner work for her, and offered to do her site in exchange for just having my link on her pages. It was a very basic site, no programming involved and it's hosted on a free hosting company.
Well, I finished the site for her and put it online. Our agreement was completed on both ends. My link was at the bottom of her pages and she was happy with her new site.
About a week or so later, she asked if it would be too much trouble for me to maintain her site on a monthly basis. Since this wasn't part of the original agreement, I told her that I would maintain the site for her, but that I wouldn't be able to do it for free.
She said that was fine and then brought up the subject of finding someone else to maintain the site for her. But then she also stated that if she found someone else to do it, that person would most likely take my link down and replace it with theirs. Now I don't have a problem with the site maintainer adding their link to her site, but I don't want them taking credit for my layout and designs.
My question here is what would you do in a case like this? I can't break our original agreement and take down her new site without talking to her first, but I'm worried that she might 'hire' someone else and then lock me out and take off my link.
I don't have a problem with someone else maintaining the site. I just want her to keep my link up there as the designer of the site.
Right now, my only choices are to let her hire someone else and trust she honors our agreement, or I'll get screwed and someone else will take credit for the work I did.
Does anyone know of any other options or advice on how to handle this?
Thanks in advance.
If she wants to let someone else maintain it, fine. But, if your link comes down, then so should the site.
Sounds like she wants your free work, gives you the links. Then she wants free maintenance - and offers your link space as payment.
It is absurd that she would take your work, and then let someone else remove your link and put their up just for maintenance.
May be a little "drastic," but I would kill the site, and put it on another free host without giving the access info to her. If she wants it updated, she'll have to pay you. Otherwise, she can work out another deal from scratch with someone else.
This may seem extreme, but it really burns me up that someone would take your work, and then threaten to kill your end of the deal because you require payment for additional services. The audacity...
Wow, talk about bribing you to get more free work. It's a good learning point for all of us that even when you do things for free, you should always have a written contract that covers such shenanigans.Covering such things as timescales for leaving credits on, and contingencies like this.
I would communicate to her the problems this is causing for you. Maybe she will have the good sense to leave both links on. - But then again, you may be blamed for other people's work/maintenance. Insist on "Original design by... " or someting like that,
I have had this very thing happen. A client site, which clearly had MY copyright notice on it, was taken by someone, a web host who knows better, who includes maintenance with hosting - unlimlited updates - for $30 a month.
The files were grabbed, graphics changed (after my initial threatening emails) and she now maintains the site. She does this constantly with sites. It clearly says on her site that she will retrieve the person's files and make necessary changes to links.
It is cheaper for people to get her "free" maintenance than pay the person who put in all the initital work to do the updates, and this web host, who does not to design or optimization, is piggy-backing her free services off the efforts of others.
I have forced one site owner (this has happened with more than one) to put a link back on to me. So I've got one little text link on the main page, even though I specified I wanted it on every page with a #1 or # 2 ranking that my efforts put there - and it's got top rankings all over, which is why I am totally livid.
This particular web host, who imo is a thief with no ethics, does not put any identifying information on, so it is hard to know who is responsible.
I went through this scenario with another site I did (pro bono for a friend - now an ex friend) - same web host involved.
Some people say a site belongs to the person as soon as they pay, others say different. I believe I own the copyright unless I specify otherwise - enforcement is a different issue. I am just going by what appears at the U. S. copyright info site.
There is a third client of mine who has not done her expected update, who I believe is thinking of opting for free maintenance from the same host. Being aware of the other situation, I believe she is hesitant to start in with it.
I would definitely change the host and site access information so that they can't lock you out of the site - but know that the files can still be taken. Do put your copyright notice right on each page - and take screenshots, just or your own documentation and peace of mind, as well as future portfolio usage if applicable.
Is the site optimized for search engines? Will it get high rankings? If so, you might consider pulling the optimization elements from the site until the issue is resolved. You can always use screenshots or samples in a client directory on your own site for a design portfolio item - rankings are a different issue.
To me, this would not be as much of an issue if it weren't for the search engine rankings. There is no reason why someone who did nothing more than make some new graphics should appear to get credit for search engine listings -which is exactly what it looked like in my case.
I have no objection to someone taking over maintenance (I welcome it) but I do object to taking credit for what I did.
Edited by: Marcia
I would point blank state to her "if" (I think she's rattling your cage) she does in fact get someone else to maintain the site that there was an agreement that you would build the site in exchange for the link.
Then step back away from it and forget it.
Most of the responses so far have assumed an "adversarial" state between you and your free client. Assuming the relationship is still friendly, perhaps your client would be willing to require whoever maintains the site retain your "Designed by" link, and perhaps ADD their maintained by link.
You designed the site at no cost, presumably for the advertising benefit. Is this clear to the client? If you can continue that benefit, everyone wins.
Thanks everyone for your advice.
The first time she stated this about my link I had a nice long talk with her, making sure she remembered our agreement, and she apologized, but since then, she has brought it up two more times. I just somehow get the feeling that she's 'threatening' me with removing my link just to get me to work for free, and everytime the money issue comes up, she somehow throws that back at me.
My business partner is under the assumption that she might go ahead and get someone else to maintain the site, then lock me out, so I can't do anything if she does take out our link.
I personally don't mind if she finds someone else to maintain her site. I held up our end of the original agreement, and now with the way she's being, I don't think I want to deal with her anymore.
Taking screen shots is a good idea, though.
A friend of mine told me that I should just put up her old site and take down the new if she keeps threatening me with a link removal, but I'm loathe to do that without letting her know first. I don't want her bad mouthing my services or my company because I know how fast the word (bad or good) can spread online.
You keep reffering to this person as a "client", that is a bit of a stretch as it sounds as if she will go to great lengths to not pay for anything, including threatening to reneg on a "free" deal. It bothers me that you extended yourself in good faith, only to be further manipulated by this so-called "client". Tell her to remove the link and hit the bricks, why would you want to be associated her?
Which leads me to a "pet" concept of mine, maybe we could set up a web deadbeat site where web designer/developers could list the names and URLs of deadbeat clients, so as to avoid any further burns, I would also like the site to include the names of hosting companies that rip off designers clients, so that we could steer everyone away from them. Clients rip you off, and you worry about YOUR reputation...yikes! It really needs to be the other way around.
For this whole thread all I can say is
If you do something for free and want to hold the copyright. make sure you have a licence agreement in place saying that they have the right to use it..
If you design a site that is for a paying customer and they try and negoticate the price use a licence agreement again and licence that design and graphics to that site only.
If you really want to play that game well.. Copyright all images with Digimark and then pay them a small fee to monitor the web for your graphics... When your graphic shows up they give you a list of URLS that are using your graphics and you can chase those people down...
Just some small advice... BTW playing with Digimark can make you alot of money as when a graphic shows up you can email, call the person with NOT remove the graphic BUT to tell them that the image is copyright and they can pay a small licence fee to use the image....
"May all your clicks be sales"