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held hostage by webmaster
won't transfer or update

 1:46 pm on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Our webmaster won't update our site nor will he allow transfer to another webmaster. He is fully paid( over I think) but is just miserable. Any suggestions.


Receptional Andy

 1:51 pm on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

The most important question is your legal situation in terms of a contract with the webmaster.

In any case, if the site is not complex (i.e. no server-side programming or databases) you could download a copy yourself to be on the safe side.


 1:53 pm on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

if you controls the domain then just:

1. save whole site to your disk
2. get a new hosting and upload the site there
3. update dns servers so domain will point to new ip
4. wait 24 hours.

thats it!

Fortune Hunter

 9:03 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with FridayNight. I don't think the contract or what is in it is worth much unless you are willing to sue him/her and pay all the attorney costs to litigate this. If you have control of the domain and as Friday said don't have databases and scripts you need you can simply copy the site and move it.

It won't be as satisfying as kicking the webmasters butt in court, but it will be cheaper and less stressful over the long run and allow you to get back to work on what you do best instead of screwing around trying to get him/her to do something they aren't inclined to do on their own.



 9:13 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Our webmaster won't update our site nor will he allow transfer to another webmaster.

If your webmaster won't allow 'transfer to another webmaster' then you are not the administrative contact of the domain name? If that is the case you're in trouble and court of law is your only way!


 11:08 pm on May 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I guess you learn al the time. You hire someone and trust them to build a website and host it. We didn't know we didn't "own" even though we paid for the product. We can't afford to hire a lawyer to litigate in court, but maybe the court of public opinion may have a better effect.


 4:26 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are you paying the domain and hosting fees through him or directly to the registrar and hosting company?

You can look up the domain in the whois database. If it's registered to the webmaster before going the lawyer route try getting someone that knows what they're talking about and doing. I had a client that was going through a similar situation where the original webmaster was giving him the run around until I stepped in. It's pretty easy to push someone around that has no clue but not so easy if the other person is knowledgeable. Unless he has some pretty firm legal ground to stand on he'll probably allow the transfer.


 4:41 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)


I doubt that you do not own the site. In the US, that comes under "work for hire" in the copyright laws, regardless who the administrative contact is. Sticky Mail me with your sites URL so I can do a little research.


 4:44 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Technically, the webmaster or designer, as the creator, retains the copyright on a site unless it's been specifically signed over to the client. But if you've been doing business under a name you've got commonlaw trademark rights - for that type of business. Check with [chillingeffects.org...] . And your original content like text you've written, your photos, etc. - those were yours to begin with.

The singlemost important thing is that you own the domain name. Is it your ISP email that's listed as Administrative contact for the domain?

BTW, carny do you have two sites or just one?

Marshall, it's usually independent contractor, which isn't the same thing as work for hire, and the copyright issue is different.

[edited by: encyclo at 12:50 am (utc) on May 17, 2007]
[edit reason] fixed broken link [/edit]


 8:41 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

He is fully paid( over I think) but is just miserable.

May be worth checking that he's fully paid, and asking him what his grievance is.

Probably a lot cheaper than rebuilding all over again, or going to court.

In my experience, people tend to be miserable for a reason - and he just might have a good one. At least ask him!


 9:04 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my experience, people tend to be miserable for a reason - and he just might have a good one.

In my experience, webmasters that won't allow transfer of a domain name that is not their property are extortionists! There is only one way you can deal with that kind of 'professionals' - court of law...


 9:07 am on May 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Unless you employed a US based developer and your contract specified that it was "work for hire" it is unlikely that you own the copyright for the site, and even if your webmaster 'transferred it' to someone else, they wouldn't be legally permitted to make any change to the design as that would be classed as 'creating a derivative work'. In many countries, copyright cannot be legally transferred from the creator, only licensed, no matter what your contract says.

The domain name is another matter and there are a number of ways to go about obtaining that. Once you have the domain name then you will need to either show the site 'as it was' or commission a new webmaster to create a new and different design which uses none of the design features from your original webmaster.


 2:13 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow- It seems like this is a pretty complicated issue. You have all given some graet info and ideas. Here's some answers to questions posed.
We are paying hosting and domain thru him. He must be a GoDaddy reesller because info is listed with them. I check whois registery. I have thought about complaining to GoDaddy.
We only have one site. It's time sensitive so this whole thing is a royal pain.
He has no reason for being a miserable perso. I actually think there could be some mental issues going on. Thanks


 2:46 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Who is listed as the owner of the domain, and as the Administrative contact in the whois, you or him?


 3:06 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

You could just send him a bonus for a job well done? It might be enough to make him play ball...


 10:45 am on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

He must be a GoDaddy reseller

Before you take any decisions (on anything in life) you must do your research and get your facts straight. Reading this thread, you do not appear to have done so yet.

If he is a reseller, he may be breaching their rules (you'll have to do some research to find out) in which case you would have some leverage.

In my experience, avoid arguments, avoid courts and just sort out messes as necessary - in this case, ideally you want a new webmaster in place, etc. before the old one knows he's history (but make sure he has no grounds for legal action against you first).



 7:47 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is like a soap opera gone bad. Google says there is nothing they can do. Can't transfer domain name without permission. Said take it to the courts. I'm not a web guy but it seems to me that the "Webmasters" are sowing their own seeds of destruction but lack of self discipline. Carny


 8:29 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google says there is nothing they can do

Yep! Sure, Google has nothing to do between you and your webmaster. What did you had in mind by contacting Google? To remove your DNS from Google result ;)

Carny, please read carefully comments posted above...

Do not act before having a clear idea of what's going on. If you are not a webguy yourself, I suggest you follow Coalman or Marshall's advice, that is to hire another webmaster that can trackback essential information.

As you can see, they are many ways to get your site back and running. Someone even gave you the There has been You didn't even said if your website is static or dynamic?

Anyway, this all situation is dubious to me...


 8:54 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi Tomda- I am not a "web guy" but I am a business person who has been around the block a couple of times. I have never dealings that seem to result in a deadend. I did review the above comments. We have a new webmaster, we check WHOIS and found we are not the domain owners. I phone Google to see if they would help, their company is being represented by a jerk whether they like it or not. They told me to request a domain change which I did do mentioning there had been an infringement on our commonlaw trademark. They responsed by saying" use local court system". Uhm let's see $ 500.00 per hour plus expenses and 2 years down the line.Pardon me if I'm getting a little teed off but based on the numerous responses and ideas I have received and greatly appreciated there is no simple way to get the domain and site back the way it was. My impressions from the outside still stand.


 9:15 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

You lost me at Google...


 9:15 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sorry my bad- I said Google when I mean to say GoDaddy. Its that G thing I guess. I apologize to Google for the confusion.


 9:15 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Go to ICANN's web site. They have information about domain transfers and registration. [internic.net ]


 9:17 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Um, how on earth is Google involved and why do you think your old webmaster was representing them?

You said the domain was registered through GoDaddy. They would be the one to talk to, not Google.


 12:10 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

From GoDaddy's terms of service
Go Daddy reserves the right to terminate Services if Your usage of the Services results in, or is the subject of, legal action or threatened legal action, against Go Daddy or any of its affiliates or partners, without consideration for whether such legal action or threatened legal action is eventually determined to be with or without merit.

In other words, if you threaten to file a law suit against both GoDaddy and the Reseller, the Reseller's account could be terminated.

Like I said before, do your research - there may be a lot more in their TOS that might be useful. If you think researching problems is beneath you, either you'll get taken again and again or you'll pay lawyers a lot of money. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's the truth.



 12:41 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not a web guy but it seems to me that the "Webmasters" are sowing their own seeds of destruction but lack of self discipline.

There's bad apples in every bunch, on the other hand you should have done some reseach beforehand instead of blindly going into business arrangement with someone.

Fortune Hunter

 4:07 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not a web guy but it seems to me that the "Webmasters" are sowing their own seeds of destruction but lack of self discipline.

Most of us are "Webmasters" here and probably don't appreciate being lumped into a single category that is "sowing their own seeds of destruction". The truth is there are losers in every industry.

The fact is some of this could have been avoided with some research so you knew a little about the webmaster and the process, so you knew to put the domain in your name, and a written contract would probably have helped as well.

Unfortunately those things weren't done so that is ship has sailed. Now you have the chance to do some additional research to see what remedies may still be open to you.

That research includes getting FREE advice from all of us "Webmasters". So please a little respect to those of us that are self disciplined and would never dream of treating our clients the way you have been treated.



 4:18 am on May 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think it is quite evident that most webmasters are of good character and high ethical values given the fact of how many of us are trying to help with this problem.


 3:56 am on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Stop paying him.


 2:03 pm on May 19, 2007 (gmt 0)


My experience is a bit off topic, but I believe it will apply.

Recently It's Your Domain .com, IYD.com stole two of my domaind that wre registered with them.

They put the domains into redemption 18 hours before the registration ended. When they did that I began to remove the rest of my domains. One that was expiring the next day was delayed long enough, so that the new, complicated verification system was delayed by their request for faxes, etc.

In any event, I went to ICANN and Neustar. One was .com and one was .org.

Neustar was very helpful. ICANN was rude and ineffcetive, and evtually ferused to speak to me withut an attorney.

I hired an attorney, but ebcause of the specialness of the situation, I did most of the prep work , that I had already presented to ICANN, by myself.

When IYD's legal counsel, which I obtained from whois, received the letters from my attorney, which was copied to ICANN and Neustar, "suddenly" IYD owned up to a vagueness in ICANN's regulations. IN other words they realized they were about to get their F""""N panys sued off and backed off. THey reelased my domains, to the public and then called my attorney (so tehre was a chance I might actually have lost it again to stangers) Anyway, I got them back.

I am now my own registrar (A go daddy resller, and have somewhat mre control over my many domains.)

The point is, I suggest you gather all the information you have, put it in a straightforward manner, hire a lawyer to at least write a letter to the developer, making your demands and copy ICANN's general Counsel, and go-daddy. It is probably your only shot. They might just realize you're serious.

We are living in a very anonymous world where peopel act like Martinets and do rude things to others who otherwise might be timid creeps. (I have stopped using Ebay because of the this.) This is the most perplexing aspect of doing business on the web, people hiding behind anonymity caused by the lack of real contact in a physical community. People are laways getting ripped off because of this. You're not alone.

You could always find out what street they live on. We used to do that in the Bronx. It also shows a bit a seriousness. But, really, a lawyer's letter is your best shot. And, the lawyer's letter will arive by post, which is much more effective than an email.


 3:20 pm on May 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

You could always find out what street they live on. We used to do that in the Bronx. It also shows a bit a seriousness.

Be real careful there. You could end up with a load of cops or a posse at YOUR OWN doorstep.

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