Who owns the web site?

Hi Everyone-

I have a client where the admin assistant left on disagreeable terms. She contacted me to build a site for her new business, which I did. A few weeks later, I received a note from the firm she left asking me to be sure not to give her any of their client database info - she had asked for it and the firm said no. This was the first I became aware that things were disagreeable. (I never had this info in the first place and have not talked to either about the business of the other.)

I got this client from another web pro who changed careers, and have done very little work for them and know very little about the company.

I got an email yesterday from the woman (the admin who left the firm) asking me to take material off a web site for a company associated with the firm. I am not clear about who owns the web site and am uncomfortable taking material off it unless I know that because this all sounds messy to me.

The name on the hosting account is the woman’s, but admin’s names are often on accounts of company web sites even though they are actually owned by the company. I have no idea whose credit card is paying the bill.

I sent both the woman and the firm a note today saying I am no longer going to work with either of them. I’m not convinced someone isn’t playing dirty here, and I want nothing to do with it.

The firm asked me for the account info for their web accounts - a reasonable request. I sent them the info for the account for the site that clearly belongs to them, but there is still the associated company site which I don’t know who really owns. I decided to just ignore it and I’m tempted to delete the account info off my computer entirely.

How do I know who owns this second web site for the associated company, and is therefore entitled to the userid/pw? What should I be doing to protect myself?

Thanks for any advice…

You have two clients, their previous link impacts them, but you should approach it as if they never knew each other [except in dealing with them both which is going to be risky, dicey and potentially ugly].

This being the case, the IP of one is not something you would ever share with, or even comment on, to the other.

If “the firm” had data and “the assistant” wants that data that’s wonderful. She can get it and give it to you. How she gets it at that point her her liability.

If you have been given notice not to use such something directly, because it was posted online or because you somehow mentioned it, than you would certainly want to ask her for clear permission and reiterate the liability as being on her but you should never be transferring files between two clients directly.

If someone is asking you to do something unethical, like delete or alter a website which is not theirs, your best bet is to notify whoever they ask advising you to impact and redirect them to that source for permission. Only your client, as noted on your agreement, can do that.

Separate yourself from playing filter. Two clients. Two different businesses. No mixing. No sharing. No she said, he said or they said. You are not a middle man. Not an arbitrator and not an attorney. Their business is between them; keep it that way.

You need to get out of the middle before you find yourself in a lawsuit. Seriously.

When you build a website for a client you should get them to sign an agreement which governs you for several things and also declares who the owner of the website is. Also the invoices issued and payments received can declare who owns the website as well.

If person X works at a company and they contact you to do a website and you issue an invoice to their company and their company pays for it then clearly the company owns the site.

However a good contract also is good to be in place so you will have written down who owns the site