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My name removed from articles by new site owner

Other authors names not removed

     
11:29 am on Jun 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I developed and ran a website for 14 years. I sold it last year.

During the time I owned it, I wrote close to 800 original articles. The site also has several articles written by other authors.

I recently noticed that my name in the byline has been removed from every article I wrote and it now says "by sitename editor." The names of the authors of other articles have not been removed.

I don't believe the new owner has a right to remove my name from articles I written. Am I correct? Thank you
12:30 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld.
I once sold a car that has some of my special customisations. When I sold the car a few weeks later I saw the new owner diving down the road and they'd removed one of my modifications. I'd sold it with a bill of sale and i'd have no rights to demand it being reattached.

When you sold your site, did specifically state in your documents of sale it is not to be removed? Did you have a copyright "your name" on each of them? It's a grey area unless there's something that specifically states, "it's your copyright" and when you sold the site the new owner is making the assumption you sold everything to them.
2:00 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't believe the new owner has a right to remove my name from articles I written. Am I correct?

From an ethic point of view, no. Then from a legal point of view, this is more complex. I know how terribly upsetting it can be.
2:48 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The new owner may feel that the articles were purchased and they needed to change the name for their own copyrights to apply. It is possible that these things were not made clear before the sale and if not specified as part of the sale, it may be difficult to defend. If you have published these articles elsewhere, in a book for example, then you may have a reason to speak with a lawyer.
3:36 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have not published the articles elsewhere and a copyright symbol was not applied by my name, but at the bottom of the page. They were not specified as part of the sale, one way or another. Some of the articles reference personal things, such as stories about my father when he was a still photographer for MGM movies. My name is gone from those articles too!

It may be worthwhile to point out again that only my name has been removed, none of the other authors names have been removed. My guess it's because of the sheer number of articles I wrote for the site, still they are original articles written by me.
4:01 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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While I am not a lawyer, I do have a lot of copyright experience. As you a) did not personally copyright your work, b) sold the website, content included, and c) they did not remove anyone else's name, I believe it is safe to say your work has now become a "work for hire." If that is the case, you do not have a leg to stand one. But as I said, I am not a lawyer, just a person with a lot of experience in these matters.
4:04 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Look at the contract of sale. If the SITE and CONTENTS was sold, the new guys OWN it.... however, you might be able to assert a requirement to show your name on your articles as that is your copyright (unless you sold that too ... which is what they will claim).

As for the PERSONAL articles (about family) you might have a good case to get those REMOVED from the site.

If this is really important you might need to consult an attorney if the new site owner is indisposed to accommodations on your behalf.

BTW, Welcome to Webmasterworld!
4:55 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for the welcome!

In rereading the contract, I think he might have a right to do what he did. I can understand why he wouldn't want 800 articles in the site with my name. While uniquely written, many are common topics found at similar sites.

I'm going to contact him and see if he can add my name back to the personal articles, otherwise I will ask him to remove them. We got along well during the sale and I'm hoping we can work things out.
5:07 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Yes, be nice and they may comply. It might just be a search and replace they did across the site.
Please keep us updated.
5:19 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Will keep you posted. Thank you everyone for your help and insights. I sincerely appreciate it.
8:25 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I contacted the new site owner. He apologized and said he didn't even consider the impact of some of the changes he was making.

As I mentioned, the more I thought about it, he certainly doesn't need my name plastered on almost every article in the site.

I've asked him if I could go through the site and pick some of the more personalized articles so he could add my name to them. I'm sure he will.

All is well!
10:43 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Good for you. Sounds like he just wanted to remove your name as the owner of the site, like in documents like Privacy policy, TOS, etc... and went too far.
11:28 pm on June 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I so LOVE happy endings!

There still remain decent folks in this world and it is a grand thing to know that common courtesy and polite manners can accomplish wonders.

Who knows, you might even be able to wrangle a paid consultant/writer position "after the sale."
10:29 am on June 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There still remain decent folks in this world and it is a grand thing to know that common courtesy and polite manners can accomplish wonders.


Yes, and no threats or lawyers involved.

Splendid news.
3:35 pm on June 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you are outside of the United States, you have moral rights as the creator/author of a work and your name and authorship cannot be denied, nor can it be sold. Moral rights cannot be sold - ever. In places like Canada or the EU, a new owner could not remove your byline even if they own the contents. The United States does not recognize moral rights.
3:59 pm on June 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement, well wishes and helpful information. Everything is working out just fine.
12:46 pm on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As far as I know, at least in European legislation, every copyright owner (and as the content creator you are still that, despite selling the site with your article) has the right to have his name mentioned along with his material. But that right can be excluded by the parties, so it depends on the selling contract you have entered into, I suppose.
3:07 am on Nov 14, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It could be as simple as he changed the name displayed to the web on the account he logs into the site. (Wordpress?)
 

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