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Should I Charge a Kill Fee for a Large Website?

No contract and they want to hire a new webmaster.

   
1:24 am on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have designed and maintained a website for a very popular rock n' roll band for about 6 years. They are very successful and were not when I started the designing. (they were in the top 10 for many months in 200-2001). Now they want me to surrender the passwords and such for the site for someone else to work on it and take it all away from me. (They already have the passwords for the domain name, but not the hosting and such). I think I deserve some sort of kill fee...maybe $10,000 (remember, they are millionaires). I have never had any sort of contract with them, but I have been paid regularly with no problems as a conditional employee and have paid taxes on all my earnings. What does everyone think? What should I do?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

1:39 am on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I hate to sound negative, but it sounds like work for hire to me, especially without a contract claiming any rights or any terms or conditions whatsoever.

Who does the site say owns the copyright, YOU or THEM? If it says YOU own the copyright, then they would need to pay you for releasing the copyright to them. However, if you never actually filed a copyright your grounds are limited. If it says THEM, I would hand it over quietly. Besides, they could just as easily copy the content without the password (unless it's database driven) and since they paid for it, and own the domain name, probably nothing to stop them as all signs point to their ownership based on your description.

Sounds like a consult with an attorney might be in order here, but I don't think it would go very far.

I'd leave the doors open on good terms and not burn bridges at this point.

Perhaps the new person doesn't work out or they need other work in the future.

Chalk it up to ALWAYS GET A CONTRACT.

1:57 am on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL is right.

Do NOT play games with their password access or anything. Be very gracious. Forget about them being millionaires. Be gracious and hope that your professionalism leads to other business. Remember, they did you a service as much as you did them one - you are a hotter commodity because you were working for a top band.

Think of it this way: If Microsoft hires a carpenter to fix some picnic benches on the campus, that carpenter has no moral claim on kill fee if Microsoft, within the terms of its agreement, decides not to continue using his services after a few benches were repaired. Forget about Bill Gates and his billions.

Now, on the other hand, it can't hurt to ask for a kill fee, life-time concert tickets, whatever you think is reasonable - as long as you have turned over everything or previously stated your intention to turn over everything and there's no implied blackmail. But if you don't get one, no sour grapes. They don't owe you one morally or legally. I personally think they would be crazy to pay you one.

2:22 pm on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



lulabelle, if there were no contracts between you, then 'technically' the creator of any work automatically owns the copyright once it is created - which I assume is you. Typically, a work-for-hire agreement is required where both parties specify copyright ownership to the purchaser before the band would truly own the rights.

BusinessWeek has an old story on this at:
[businessweek.com:...]

BUT, personally, I agree with the others. I would keep the parting very professional and use the prior relationship as a stepping stone to bigger and better things for your company. If you start holding back passwords to a client's site, you are going to get a horrible reputation in the industry in a hurry.

If the band is successful - and has the $bucks$ - you can be sure they will own everything in the end anyway, and you will be spending money in attorney's fees, and wasting time on something that is best to walk away from.

Steve

5:17 pm on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)



"I have never had any sort of contract with them, but I have been paid regularly with no problems as a conditional employee and have paid taxes on all my earnings. What does everyone think? What should I do?"

You got what you deserved. You got paid! If you had done it for free when they had no money, it's a different story. Even then, it would be up to them to step up to the plate.

11:47 pm on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Definitely give them the passwords to everything they desire. Try to keep in contact with them. You never know - this other person that they want to take over, might not know what he is going and they will want someone to take over and fast. More than likely, they will turn to you since you provided great service and support.

True, it is disheartening - but don't let it turn personal.

-Corey

9:17 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have been paid regularly with no problems as a conditional employee and have paid taxes on all my earnings. What does everyone think? What should I do?

To put it bluntly, I think you should stop being so greedy.

Why do you think you "deserve" a kill fee?
ONLY because they are significantly richer than you? If they had only been marginally richer - OR you did not know how much money they had at all would you be demanding a $10,000 "kill fee"? What if they had been a charity?

4:32 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



If they have become successful they have a team of lawyers and you will get sued for holding out and playing games (the world owes me something...no it doesn't)...that simple..graciously thank them for the relationship..wish them much success......make sure this is prominently displayed...in your resume/project proposals...and get on with seeking new working relationships...with the knowledge under you belt that you did good work for these folks for 6 years...

A note on Bill Gates ... he does not actually have access to billions of dollars..he can't personally touch the $50 billion+ cash war chest that Microsoft has accrued...he can't do cash withdrawls against his business assets...if he has credit problems...he will be denied credit just like anyone else...He is worth what his ownership share of his company is valued at (and typcially this is a highly inflated valuation anyways)...

4:36 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)



Personally I think we've been trolled
4:43 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Meaning what Vbatz, out of curiosity?

EVO

4:46 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)



Meaning someone comes here registers and on their first post ( and only post to date) posts something so ludicruse as a "kill fee".

They haven't even responded to this.

seems a bit fishy to me. I think everyone that got riled up gave someone a good laugh.

trust me.. I am a professional troll elsewhere..

5:08 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Vabitz:

ludicruse
I think he just asked a question and the members have answered his question why (on earth?) would you think that?

lulabelle:

Like incrediBILL, diamondgrl has said it all your best bet would just to be nice and hope you get work in the future from them or partners of the band.

6:50 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



While anything (including trolls) is possible, don't you think it's more likely that since lulabelle was chastised for even thinking about a kill fee, he/she just didn't feel like replying? If someone told me I was being greedy, I don't know if I'd come back to say "thanks for the advice".
6:52 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)



nope I don't

I think had it been a regular person who really thought they were entitled to that they would have gotten back on here and told us all to sod off. Its their hardwork that helped make the band what they are... etc etc etc

7:00 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I always base my kill fee on how well protected the target is - I'm sure you could dev/null this webmaster pretty easily at one of their habitual stomping grounds: coffee shop, computer store, or adult book store.
10:21 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Well seeing how lulabelle was very new we may have scared them a bit. But anything is possible. Trolling? Maybe.

I thought it was a very good question. I personally have been given a contracted job from a webmaster would didn't have a contract. And let me tell you, it's been a nightmare. The guy has been making it very difficult. To be honest lulabelle could be him. lol

12:12 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



In my opinion you have a reason to be upset. I would ask them face to face if they want to get rid of you. If they do, tell them the price! If they don't, ask what they had in mind for you in the future. Explain them what a mess it will be if more then 1 person works on a site. Tell them it is ok that you get help, but you want to be in charge.
I would definatelly not give them the passwords wihout a very good reason. Just my opinion.
5:55 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I agree with most of the others. You were paid for your work and their popularity and subsequent millions had little if anything to do with you. They may have benefited from your work, but you were paid for it.

I think you should surrender the passwords right away and not hold the site hostage. However if you think you deserve something more for your work I don't think their is anything wrong with asking them for a nice letter of reference and the right to put part of the site in your portfolio along with the letter.

You may not get the cash you want, but you will get some of the glory and that will of course lead to many more jobs in the future.

Fortune Hunter

7:00 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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billythekiddo,

remind me of this thread if i ever consider doing business with you in the future. that way i can know to run as fast and far away as possible.

4:02 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>Forget about them being millionaires

The fact that they are millionaires is the #1 reason to graciously cut your losses. You cant win, even if your right, without significant cost that you probably will never recoup. If you have a work for hire agreement, remind them. If not, lesson learned.

Be professional, part as friends if possible, get some tickets, monitor your replacement's success and leave the door open for future business.

4:26 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Whislt I don't understand what you mean when claiming you are a "conditional employee" you certainly have a contract with them under common law.

In the absence of evidence otherwise it probably means you own the rights to your work.

As they control the domain they can change the site design and you will have no case.

4:35 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Decaff how can you justify your comment:

A note on Bill Gates ... he does not actually have access to billions of dollars..he can't personally touch the $50 billion+ cash war chest that Microsoft has accrued...he can't do cash withdrawls against his business assets...if he has credit problems...he will be denied credit just like anyone else...

Gate has access to billions of dollars and can convert shares he owns in MS and other companies to cash. He can also borrow against his business assets should he wish.

4:42 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Uh, yeah, I wouldn't worry about Bill's access to credit. I would write him a loan in an instant and so would every bank in this country.
8:54 pm on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



dead wrong...he plays by the same rules as everyone else..bad credit .. no loan..
1:12 pm on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It would be interesting to find out why they want to drop you and go somewhere else - there may be a lesson there that could help you.

You are going to lose accounts here and there, it happens no matter what you do, try to learn from it, be gracious and move on.

I have had a few come back when they find out the grass wasn't as green on the other side as they thought it was.

Don

1:31 am on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)



"Uh, yeah, I wouldn't worry about Bill's access to credit. I would write him a loan in an instant and so would every bank in this country. "

tell that the Bank of America who loaned Ebbers hundreds of millions. There's a limit to everything, and Bill will have absolutely no problem but after a certain amount he has to secure it. If MSFT shares start tanking they will want more colleteral