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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast Cyanide's Avatar
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    I would like your advice on how to handle a client [http://www.prgmea.org] who wants me to discontinue hosting a site that i had designed and hosted for him. I have no problems in handing over the domain name, but am uneasy about handing over the actual webpages. The client could have stolen them from the web, but the hosting expires tonight and he still hasn't done so. Do i force him to continue hosting with me? or do I hand over the entire site, access database and all? Your advice is appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Fuzz

  2. #2
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    Did he pay for the designs? And did he pay for the database? If he didn't, I don't see why you will have to handle all of them over. Just tell him all of this are copyrighted to you, and he have to rights to use them.

  3. #3
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    I assume that the client paid you to create the website, and in which case I would say that the client owns the rights to it - even if your terms state that your company will take the credit for the design work. So long as any monies owed to you have been paid, I see no reason for you to try to force the client to continue using your hosting services.

    When you were asked by the client to build this site, did you make up a contract containing a list of terms and conditions? For example saying that a client should notify you in writing one month prior to the hosting expiry date should he wish to discontinue hosting services? If not, then I don't see how you can stop your client from removing the site from your server and switching to another host.

    I think you have no choice but to let the site go....data base and all....then sit back and try to work out why your client wanted to move elsewhere.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot Sesran's Avatar
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    Very good topic.

    I too have a client that is leaving and I am sure it is just because I want him to pay his bill. (Go figure) Anyway, he wanted to know how he can get his web site to another host. My reply was to pay for the design in full and it is all his. He then changed his tune when he found out he still had to pay. Anyway, as of April 15 his hosting is up, and he will be told that he owes us $X amount of money (Design & Hosting) in order to keep the site running. In my opinion, it is better to weed out the non-paying/problem clients in order to have a successful business.
    Cyanide, my advise to you would be, if the client does not owe you any money, let them go. They will only become a hassle in the future, better to weed out the rotten eggs now.
    Sesran Site Solutions - Web Site Hosting & Design

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast Cyanide's Avatar
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    i think you ppl are right in suggesting that I hand over the site. I am only going to request my ex-client is to keep a link back to my website and to remove my name incase any changes are made to the website.
    Unforunately I did not make my client sign a contract at all. Have already started on making a contract to avoid such problems in the future. Thanks a whole lot for the advice guys. I really appreciate it!

  6. #6
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Saz249
    I assume that the client paid you to create the website, and in which case I would say that the client owns the rights to it - even if your terms state that your company will take the credit for the design work.
    A contract should have been used to spell out the exact terms (as everyone already knows), but I just wanted to point out that although many clients *assume* that since they paid to have a site designed, they own all rights to the design, this is not really correct.

    You designed the site. You own it. You designed it because they paid you to design it (unless you are in the habit of creating random sites for companies for no reason).

    Even if no contract was drawn up, you should know that as the creator of the design, it is yours.
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.
    Chicken

  7. #7
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    I agree whole-heartedly that the designer owns the rights to any 'design' work, but the content matter is usually provided by the client, so the designer can't claim they own that.

    The way I see it is that the client pays the designer to create the site and basically pays for the right to 'use' that design. If the client were to then go on to have another designer create a second site in the same design, then I would step in and say that the design rights are mine and that this is a copyright infringement, but this has nothing to do with where the site is hosted.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
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    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  8. #8
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    Yes, note however, the issue isn't the release of the content.
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.
    Chicken

  9. #9
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Yes it is....it's exactly that!

    Cyanide mentioned that he was uneasy about handing over the webpages...including the database.

    When you talk of webpages, that surely includes design AND content.

    But this is besides the point. The question asked was should Cyanide try to prevent his client from changing hosts, which I replied to.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  10. #10
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Cyanide.....

    Just being nosey!

    How did it go with the hand-over of the website?
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast Cyanide's Avatar
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    no prob saz429... you're not being nosy... i'm was gonna update you people anyways I have about 8 hours left to decide what to do, and so far i think that i should

    Tell the client that he has no intellectual copyright over the design, the content is theirs however.

    Keep the website to myself, and since hosting has expired, to discontinue hosting it.

    If my client wishes to continue hosting with me, he gets the website... if not, he is welcome to get it designed from wherever he wants to.

    If he wishes to get it hosted from somewhere else, he has to pay for the entire website.

    If i'm being a little harsh, please tell me... I would like to be as fair about this as possible!

  12. #12
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Am I right in thinking then that you designed the site for nothing because it was going to be hosted by you? (Basically the guy paid the hosting fees so got the site designed for free)

    If this is the case, then yes I would say that he should pay you for the right to use your design on another server, but you might find you come in for some stick from the client if you didn't make it clear in the beginning that he would have to 'buy' the website off you should he choose to move it elsewhere.

    May I suggest that you do things slightly differently in future and charge for the design of the website even if the client is going to use you as a host. The way I worked my pricing out was to give a discount on the actual web design costs should the client use my hosting services too.

    On top of this, I also listed my terms and conditions in full on my website. Some friends have said that I've gone a bit OTT with them, but I wanted to make sure I was completely covered just in case I get an awkward client or two.

    Whatever you do, I wish you luck and hope things work out in your favour as best they can.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast Cyanide's Avatar
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    Sorry for not having made it clear before this, but the client paid me seperately for design and hosting. I did give him a discount on hosting as he was getting his website designed by me.

    His argument is that since he paid me to make his website, he owns it. HOGWASH!

    He paid me for the service, and he owns a part of it!

    No matter what way this turns, I have already gotten down to making a list of terms and conditions that I will give to my client before signing up for a project. Thanks for wishing me luck Saz249... i think i'll need it!

  14. #14
    Irritability Defined
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    You'll need a bit of luck

    I just had a chat to my lawyer and he says this (this is Australian law so Pakistani law may be different, but I think Pakistan is a signatory to the Berne Convention so copyright laws should still apply reasonably the same) : as the designer, you own the copyright to the designs, content and site structure you created. Even though your client paid, unless you and the client signed a contract with a condition explicitly stating that you, the designer, will hand over all copyright entitlements to the client - you're the owner and you can hold the site (and he has little legal ground in this respect). So you're in the right here.

    Which essentially means it's up to you as to what to do with the site - whether be rid of him completely (forever) and hand him the site, or hold it to yourself (as is your legal right).

    Good luck....
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  15. #15
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Hmmmn.....this has got me thinking now, BC.

    I have no qualms whatsoever with handing over a site to the client once completed (as long as all monies due are paid!), but one of my conditions is that all webs designed by me carry an acknowledgement to that fact with a link back to my site. This is an easy thing to guard on a site that I host, but how do I stop clients removing that link if the site is hosted elsewhere? I know I could go after them as being in breach of my terms and conditions, but I wonder if there's a code that can be inserted that will disable the site if the link is changed or removed.

    If anyone has any ideas about this, I'd be interest to read them. Thanks.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  16. #16
    Carpe Chicken Chicken's Avatar
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    You can't stop clients from removing your link. Any 'code' you attempted to insert could also be removed. The only thing you can really do, if follow the proper channels if you discover a violation of your copyright.

    In thinking about it though, this is the only thing I could come up with... Some site monitor scripts check for uptime by looking for a particular word in a text file that is specified.

    For example, Uptime looks for the word 'success' in a text file called 'uptime.txt' which is located on my site. I'm sure you could write a script that looks for your link on the html page(s), and will notify you if it can't find it.
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.
    Chicken

  17. #17
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    Thanks Chicken....I'll look into that....though I'm not that good at writing my own scripts just yet!!!
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict gthorley's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Cyanide
    Sorry for not having made it clear before this, but the client paid me seperately for design and hosting. I did give him a discount on hosting as he was getting his website designed by me.

    His argument is that since he paid me to make his website, he owns it. HOGWASH!

    He paid me for the service, and he owns a part of it!

    No matter what way this turns, I have already gotten down to making a list of terms and conditions that I will give to my client before signing up for a project. Thanks for wishing me luck Saz249... i think i'll need it!
    I would think that most people would believe that if you charge them to design a website for them, which you did, and that if you didn't specifically advise them that you retain the rights to everything you designed that then they have a right to take it when there hosting contract is up. As you have indicated that you didn't make a contract it would seem that they have a right to leave with there website whenever they wish. If you start hanging your head now on copywrite law etc. just because you made serious business mistakes in not creating a contract then that is wrong. Learn from your mistakes.

    What if you stick it to these people and they then decide to slap your name and what you did all over the internet. Anyone doing a search would see a disgruntled customer and whether you can explain it or not you will lose goodwill.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Zealot Sesran's Avatar
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    Ok, now that I am thinking of this, when the 15th comes and I do shut down my clients site, can I sue him for non-payment of the design even though he does not have it?
    Sesran Site Solutions - Web Site Hosting & Design

  20. #20
    Irritability Defined
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    Originally posted by Sesran
    Ok, now that I am thinking of this, when the 15th comes and I do shut down my clients site, can I sue him for non-payment of the design even though he does not have it?
    You can, but you should take all necessary steps to avoid suing your client (such as final 'debt notices within 14 days' - check with your local debt agency; mediation; etc. etc.) before dragging your client to court, so that you can show proof that you acted in good faith by offering a reasonable amount of time to try and get the money back.

    <<Disclaimer : this is NOT legal advice, so please check with your lawyer for a definitive answer!>>
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist mad-onion's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BC
    <<Disclaimer : this is NOT legal advice, so please check with your lawyer for a definitive answer!>>
    I wonder if leniency would be offered in a court if you acted on the advice provided in a forum, and that advice was not sound.

    Just wondering, not implying in anyway that i consider any information in this thread or any other threads not sound
    SiteOptions >> Services :: Products :: Contact
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  22. #22
    Irritability Defined
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    Nahh, their lawyer would rip you to shreds
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  23. #23
    SitePoint Evangelist mad-onion's Avatar
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    But everyone would see that im just a sweet, innocent, harmless little kid
    SiteOptions >> Services :: Products :: Contact
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Member
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    Would you have a certain amount of money that you would just write off or would you pursue to the fullest on every penny? Meaning, if your client owed $100, would you pursue or just write it off after trying for a while to get it?

  25. #25
    SitePoint Member
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    Originally posted by Cyanide
    Sorry for not having made it clear before this, but the client paid me seperately for design and hosting.
    Under U.S. copyright law, I believe the actual site design would be considered a "work for hire", and therefore, the property of your client. Unless your contract specifically states - and your client agrees - that you will retain all rights to the design, your client would own the design upon paying you for it. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.

    In any case, you certainly shouldn't rely solely on the opinions of others on some message board. Speak to a copyright lawyer before making any moves, lest you find yourself on the business end of a lawsuit.

    =Bob


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