Do You Legally Own Your Web Site?

You paid good money to have your website designed. But are you sure that you actually own it?

You may be surprised to learn that the firm that did the development work for you may actually be the copyright owner of your web site. If you retained an independent development company or individual to create your site, ownership of your site may be at risk unless you properly contracted with the developer to assign the copyright to you. In short, you may have paid a lot of money to have your site developed, only to find in the end that the developer, and not you, is the copyright owner. If you are in charge of having the web site developed within your company and ownership of the web site later becomes an issue, this may be very difficult to explain to your manager or the board of directors.

Copyright Laws Specify Who Is The Author

The two legal factors involved will be the United States Copyright Act and the contract that you may ot may not have entered with the developer. It is fairly clear under the Copyright Act that the developer would be considered to be the “author” of the web site if the developer was an independent contractor and not a bona fide employee. It is the “author” of the work that has the rights that the copyright act provides.

Works Made For Hire

For a website developed in house by an employee, the company would be considered the owner of the copyright. This is because works created by employees are considered to be “works for hire.” With a “work for hire,” the employer has the right to copyright the work and to assert all of the rights of a copyright owner.

There are cases where an independent contractor can be considered to have made a “work for hire” that vests rights in the company that contracted for the work, but the conditions for this would be very difficult to meet in the case of a web site developed by an outside firm or individual. There are 3 requirements in order for a work created by an independent contractor to be considered a “work for hire.”

The first requirement is that the work be specially ordered or commissioned by you. In most cases, this test will be met if you have contracted the web developer to create your web site from scratch and not based upon a site that the developer has previously created.

The second test is more difficult to meet. The work has to fit within one of the narrow statutory categories which will rarely apply in the case of outsourced web development work. The third requirement is a written agreement that includes a clear agreement between the parties that the work would be considered to be a work made for hire. This requires very specific wording.

Reliance On Work for Hire Status Is Not Enough

One common mistake is to assume that simply placing “work for hire” language in the contract will preserve the copyright in the party contracting for the work. This language alone is not enough. All three requirements must be met and in the usual web development relationship these conditions do not exist. So many people believe that they have the copyright to their work because they used a “work for hire” clause in their contract only to find out later that this clause does not protect their copyright.

Uncertain Ownership Can Devastate Your Business

It is no surprise that this issue of copyright ownership can have devastating impacts on your business. Without properly addressing the issue, the developer and not you would not have the right to file for copyright protection. These rights include the right to control derivative works (modifications) and the right to control publication of the work (posting on the Internet) among other rights.

Practical Solutions To Uncertain Ownership

These potential problems are best solved at the time you enter the contract with the web developer. Most developer provided contracts will be relatively silent on these issues. Silence actually benefits the developer who would usually then be the author of the work under Copyright Laws. This does not benefit the client though.

So what should the client do about this potential problem? Ideally, the original agreement with the developer should require that the developer assign all copyrights in the work to you. The contract should contain language making this assignment and it is also a good idea to require in the contract that the developer provide you with a stand-alone assignment of copyright in a form that is satisfactory to you.

From the developer’s standpoint, web developers often use templates of work that they have done for other clients when taking on new project. You can always satisfy the developer’s concerns by licensing back to the developer certain portions of the work that would permit the developer to use the basic structure of your project as a template for a subsequent project. In doing this, you may be able to negotiate on the pricing aspects of the project and it could work to your benefit. Just be careful not to give too much back to the developer so that the developer can just change the logo and some colors and use your unique layout for another client. You might also consider prohibiting the developer from using your template in connection with a business that competes or otherwise is in a position to take business away from you.

The last alternative that can be used is to have the development company retain the copyright and license the use of the content to the client. This is clearly not the preferred course for the client, but is a method often proposed as a compromise by the developer.

Regardless of the method that you use, be certain that when you pay for development work that you are contractually given the right to use, and preferable exclusively control the content that you have developed.

Create A Small Business Web Site – Your Options

Developing a web site for your small business is practically a requirement in this day and age. When potential customers are searching for information, they often begin their search by finding out if your business has a web site. Most small business owners do not know the first step about developing a web site. There are some options that a small business owner can use to get their site up in running in no time.

Option 1: Hire a Web Developer or Web Development Company

This option is probably the most expensive one, but if you do not have the time and rather leave the details of your web site in capable hands, this option will be your best bet. Before you rush out and hire someone or a company to build your web site, consider the following aspects of web site development:

  • Domain registration
  • Hosting
  • Web design & eCommerce
  • Credit card merchant accounts
  • Secure online ordering
  • Marketing programs
  • Copywriters
  • Maintenance

Be sure that whoever you choose to hire can help with most of the list above – if not all (depending on your needs.)

Option 2: Learn How to Develop the Site Yourself

If you have the time and dedication to learn how to develop a web site, this option can save you some money and allows you to maintain your site as often as you like. You can learn web development through books, online tutorials, or by taking programming classes at a local college. Besides HTML, you may also want to learn a web programming language such as PHP, ASP, Perl, Java, or Cold Fusion. You’ll also want to consider learning how to develop Flash if you want animated flash movies on your site and how to use graphic software programs to create images. The downside to this option is the time it takes to learn how to use the languages and software.

Option 3: Let a Friend or Family Member Build Your Site

This can be a good option for you and your friend or family member. You get a free (or very low cost) web site developed and the person who develops it gets practice and a project to add to their portfolio. The big downside to this is that your web site may not look very professional, it may not get done on time, and can become difficult to maintain. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a professional web developer as a friend or relative, you may want to think twice about this option.

The above options are all good ways to get a small business web site up for your business. Depending on your time and budget, choose which option will work best for you.

Create a small business web site [http://www.homebasedbusinessbliss.com/do-it-yourself-web-building-basics] yourself quickly and easily. Save yourself time and money!

Website Development – 5 Tips to Improve Your Webpage Performance

Web page loading time plays an important role in drafting the destiny of the website. One of the biggest challenges posed by web developer during website development is developing download time friendly websites. Most of the web visitors love to visit those web pages which are downloading time friendly. According to a survey conducted by leading research organisation most of the users feel that things don’t happen fast enough to impress them. According to Christian Heilmann – Hollywood action flicks are to be blamed for generating the expectation of fast loading web pages in the web visitor because they always show the high decree, data rich animated webpage interfaces that pop up at the click of the mouse spilling out encyclopedic data within matter of few milliseconds. The over use of technology or very immature use of it may kill the purpose of the particular website application. It is always important to display the correct information at the places which will guide the web visitor to their ultimate goal.

There are many factors which may contribute towards slow download time of your webpage like

1. HTML is most commonly used for web development. Heavy file size of the HTML documents used during particular website development venture is one of the foremost reasons to slow down the downloading time of your webpage.

2. File size of another elements used during website design like graphics, programming scripts, and other multimedia functions are also responsible for slowing down the websites downloading time.

3. The speed of internet connection, server, and responsiveness of visitor’s computer also hampers the speed of the website.

These are just some of the technical factors which may play important role in affecting the speed of the particular website. There are certain measures to be taken up at web developer’s end during web development to create the download time friendly web application. Those measures are:

1. Optimise the HTML file size.

2. Optimise the file size of the elements used up for website application development like graphics, scripts and other multimedia elements. Thoroughly check the HTML scripts to ensure that webpage is not loaded with unwanted scripts during webpage development. Clearly define the image sizes and their container elements so that images load very fastly.

3. Use CSS script to control the functions in particular website application.

4. Now day’s web developers find it easy to use PHP script and JavaScript to cut down the file size and to cache the collated file during web application development. The files are cached, and are automatically updated when some changes are made in data during any phase of application development or website development.

5. Image jumble: Most the web developers used the idea of incorporating the low file size images during the early phases of the website development. These images were very quick in arresting the attention of the web visitor because the images with smaller file sizes loaded first in the mean time the images with large file size loaded up. This invoked the feeling of “more to come” in minds of the visitor. So web developer can use same method with much perseverance to grab the attention of the web visitor till the webpage loads fully.

These tips can be utilised completely to make your web application or website more responsive and user friendly.