Legal question regarding site redesign

A new client contacted me several months ago to recreate their existing site into a WordPress design (the original site had been created by another designer using GoDaddy Website Tonight). The client had paid the original designer to create their site and had tried for some time to get them to make changes and updates they could not get in touch with the person. So they hired me to re-create the site, using all of the existing content, into a WordPress site and host it on my server. They wanted to keep the look, basically the same. I made a few changes, rearranged some things the way they wanted them, streamlined the navigation a bit and the site was finished and made live last month. At that time my client contacted the original designer and told him that his services were no longer needed. Today that person contacted my client and told them that I should not be able to put “designed by Just Ducky Designs” (that is my company and that notice appears on the bottom of the website) on their site and he wants it removed. My question is - does he have a leg to stand on? Yes, the site looks very similar to the site he built (using the GoDaddy site builder). Yes, he did create the main image/logo for my client that is the main focus of the page (but they paid him for that logo and he did not give them any disclaimer saying that he would still own the image or design). Thank you to anyone who will take the time to answer this for me!

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Be very careful of any legal advice you are given by anyone who is not a qualified lawyer. In many jurisdictions it is illegal for someone to offer legal advice if they are not a qualified lawyer.

That said, perhaps you could find an alternative phrase to “designed by” that gets round the issue?

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I understand what you are saying about legal advice. I don’t think this person is about to sue or anything; they are just upset about being “fired”. I am basically just looking for opinions and ideas from anyone who might have faced similar issues.

I thought about the phrase at the bottom of the page and I think it is fair - it does not say “custom design” - I did design it to my clients exact specifications. Also, the site now includes a complete, custom store with individual product pages, category pages, and a full shopping cart (the original site simply had a link to a separate “store” hosted elsewhere).

Created by?


Developed by?


I decided to change it to “Created by”. It doesn’t really matter to me either way and hopefully this will ease the original designers hurt feelings. Thanks for all the quick responses!

I think you should look at the contract for any mention of “derivative work” and see what it says.

You did not “design” it nor “create” it, you modified it.

So something like
“Original design by ____ modified by Just Ducky Designs”
would be more accurate.

In most countries the person who created it would own the copyright on it UNLESS they put something in writing giving the buyer ownership. That is the sort of thing that should be in the contract when creating a site for someone - a clause stating who owns the work that has been created. That’s one reason why someone buying a design needs a contract - to ensure they end up owning the part of what they are buying that was created specifically for them - images, text and so forth. The designer will usually retain ownership of the overall design as it will usually be a derivitive of their other work done in the past and used as the basis for work done in the future.

They had no contract with this person at all. It was a “friend of a friend”. On a side note, they actually asked him (and paid him) to create two websites. He did create this one - but never got back to them to make updates - and he never created the other site at all despite being paid in full for it.

I think “Created by” works just fine. I did create it. The client emailed me all of their original images, all of their original text and told me that wanted to keep the same “basic” look. I did not use a WordPress template, I designed this by hand from their specifications. The similarities are: gray navigation bar above the logo, original logo in the center below navigation bar, custom fonts, light blue background, medium blue 20% transparent main body, gray footer with the clients name. I changed the navigation, I changed text layouts, what text went on what pages, added music players and completely changed the music page, fixed all of the hyperlinks and emails (none of them were actually linked to anything in the original site), created an entire store section, and added responsiveness to the site.

I don’t see how a person can copyright - gray navigation on top, blue background, darker blue body, and a gray footer. I don’t even understand how he could copyright the logo - which is an image of my client and his name in a custom font. The image is owned by my client and the font is a Google font.

I could be wrong here, but I think the person is just upset that they “fired” him - despite the fact that they paid him for a complete second website that he never even gave them anything for.

Ah, I misunderstood.

As long as you wrote all of the HTML and CSS, from scratch you should be OK as far as the design goes.

But keep in mind, it doesn’t matter what you or anyone here thinks. If it goes to Court it will be what the judge thinks that matters.

How about saying something like this:

Site recreated by Just Ducky Designs after [Insert original designer name here] designed the site and then disappeared, leaving the site owner up the creek without a paddle.

Works for me. :stuck_out_tongue:


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