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Tuesday
Mar212000

Web Developer Agreement Alert

You may be one of the many businesses that is considering working with an Internet web page developer to develop an Internet web site or improve your current site. Read the fine print of your contract carefully.

Some developers charge a fee for their service and give their customers all rights to the design work they perform. This includes design elements such as graphics and navigation devices, the HTML code that this the foundation of your web site and any custom scripting. This is the intellectual property that goes into the creation of a web site.

Some web developers may offer a "bargain" price for developing a web page. But if you read their contract, you will see that they retain all rights in your web page. They own the design elements, they own the HTML code and they own the scripts. If you want changes to your web page, you must go back to them. Typically, you must also pay them each month to host your web page on their server. If you want someone else to work on your web page or if you want to move your web site to another server, you cannot use the web site you paid them to develop for you. You must start over from scratch.

There are other web developers that don't address this issue in their agreements. Typically they have not thought about this or have not taken the time to address the issue in their contracts. The rule on copyrights is that if you have someone create a work for you and do not specify who owns the copyright, the creator, not you the customer, owns the copyright.

DON'T: Don't enter into an agreement that allows the web developer to retain ownership of their work for you or an agreement that fails to address this issue if you want the right to have others modify your web site and the right to move your web site to another server.

DO: Do require that the web development agreement provide that the work to be performed by the developer is a "work for hire" if you want to retain complete ownership of all rights in your web site. "Work for hire" is the term used by the copyright statutes to transfer the ownership of copyrights from the developer to the customer.

DO: Do remember that if you want the lower rates offered by some web developers, you may be giving up your right to hire someone else to modify your web site or move the site to another server.

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