Most companies trust their designer, hosting and marketing partners without question. The potential for blackmail is rarely considered, but incidents of partners freezing sites maliciously or for gain have become common.
What do you own?
The idea that immaterial things – ideas – can be ‘property’ is a historical novelty, and contentious. As a result, the law is a mess.
A ‘website’ is a combination of design, domain name, server, database, CMS, links, scripts, graphics and texts. No matter how much you paid your developer, you may own none of them.
Even musicians and writers have tenuous rights in the works they create. Copyrights in music are usually taken by record producers, for dramas it passes to broadcasters and published literature to publishers. Enough injustice and contradiction exist to keep lawyers busy.
Despite excessive legislation, online businesses have joined musicians and writers on the list that receive scant protection. It’s not even clear whether linking to other websites infringes copyright law, see https://www.out-law.com/page-381.
Register your domain in your company’s name, not your developer’s name. However, registration confers no ownership and notorious registrars can exploit this to foist unwanted extras on you. You have no right to a fixed IP either.
‘Your’ server probably belongs to a data centre serving a hosting company who lease it to a reseller who may or may not be your developer.
Your site depends on a great deal of software; CMS, database, server operating system, etc. Neither you nor your hosting company own any of it. Access isn’t guaranteed.
Copyright protection may not protect code you write yourself either – it may need patenting. Data is different – you have rights and liabilities under data protection regulations.
Text and Graphics
Work commissioned without a contract could be contested by a disgruntled writer, photographer, publisher or agent.
Human relations don’t always need to be controlled by the government or by judicial interventions; the majority of things we could argue over, we choose not to. Know who you are dealing with by choosing reputable partners and for a professional web development company in London, consider a company such as https://www.redsnapper.net/.
Finished Assembled Work
This legal phrase doesn’t grant you control over your existing site but gives you a vague right to recreate it on a server elsewhere – so download backups frequently.