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Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

Legal ownership of site

 11:53 pm on Feb 15, 2009 (gmt 0)


I've recently been employed to develop a website for a company, I have been employed in this position for just over six months. The last two months I have been doing the same work although on a self employed basis.

Through out my (self)employment there has been no contract or any sort of legal agreement.

I host the site on my own servers.

Last week I explained to the chap I was doing the work for that I simply did not have enough time to continue doing the work full time on the wage I was on and that I could continue work for him but through my company. I also offered to finish off any existing bits of work whilst he found a replacement, although he didn't take this quite as well as I'd hoped for.

To cut a whole bunch of drama short.. I'm trying to figure out who actually owns the site? Am I obliged to give him the only copy of the site which is on my servers?

I'm a bit clueless when it comes to this stuff, any help and advice would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Cheers, Rob.



 12:22 am on Feb 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm trying to figure out who actually owns the site?

I don't think there's any question. They do.

...employed to develop a website for a company,...


 12:16 pm on Feb 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your reply, I wouldn't have thought it would be that black and white without a contract.


 12:20 am on Feb 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Even at university, what ever we make belongs to them. It is unfortunate to say the least.


 12:37 am on Feb 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

The company owns the site.

You are obliged to provide a copy of the site to the company. However, you are under no obligation to continue to host the site on your server.


 12:57 am on Feb 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info guys, always good to have information on your side!


 1:44 am on Feb 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Laws differ from country to country, but here in Australia it is quite simple.

If you are an employee then the employer owns it.
If you are a contractor then you own it.

You state that the initial work was done as am employee and then further work done as a contractor. This muddies the water then as to who own which part.

As always, it would be wise to check with your legal advisor, but I would just hand everything over to them and have a contract written up for any further work. I would even include in that contract that as part of the work agreement you are hand ownership of all work done over to them.


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