We’ve all heard horror stories of websites being held hostage or a church or nonprofit realizing they didn’t really own their website until it’s too late. This can result in a big headache and lots of money wasted on regaining access or building a new website for your organization from scratch.
Now, people are being smarter with who they trust to design their website and buy their domain name. However, many website owners still don’t consider who owns their website content. Your website content is the written, visual, or audio content displayed on your website. In this article, we’ll help you find out if you own your website content.
Why is it Important to Own Your Website Content?
Just like with your website design or domain name, agencies and people will try to take advantage of you by staking a claim to your website’s content.
If someone else owns your content, you’re stuck with them. You won’t be able to switch hosting providers or design agencies without losing your content and having to start from scratch. By owning your own content, you have the freedom and flexibility to do whatever you want with your website.
How Do I Know if I Own My Content?
Content ownership can be a tricky situation to decipher, but we’ll try to give some examples of when you do and don’t own your website content.
You own your content if…
- You provided text and images on your own
- You or your employees created the content
- Your contract gives you ownership of your site’s content
You own your content if…
- Your website contract gives ownership to your hosting provider or design agency
So, if your website designer created your website content for you (whether that be photos, words, or audio/video, you do not own it! You only own that content if they give you the rights to it in your website contract.
Website contracts play a large role in content ownership. Your organization must be very careful when making deals regarding your website and its content.
What is a Website Contract?
Your website contract is an agreement between your organization and whoever designed your website. Along with the agreed upon price and services, it should also detail who exactly owns your website and its many parts.
When working with a design agency, read your contract very carefully to determine ownership. Watch out for these common phrases that discuss ownership:
- Ownership Condition Date – This clause in a contract means you will only get ownership of your website content after a certain date and if set conditions have been met. They may make you wait 10 years and force you to use their hosting platform. If you want to cancel their services, you’ll probably have to pay a large fee.
- Proprietary Platform – If your website is a proprietary platform, this means that the web agency that designed it has full ownership, and you’re usually required to host that website on their platforms. And, these websites usually aren’t compatible with other servers (like WordPress.) If you want to cancel that agency’s services, you won’t be able to take your website with you.
Here at Yemba Digital, we give content and website ownership rights to our customers. In our website contracts it reads:
“Usage rights: After the work is completed and payment has been received, the client will own the rights to the design and content.”
If your website contact includes a clause like ours above, your organization will have full ownership of the website and content as long as pay the agreed upon payment. If you want to have ownership of your website and content, make sure your web designer includes a clause like this.
What If You Don’t Own Your Website Content?
Unfortunately, if you’ve already signed a bad website contract and ownership resides with your web design agency, there’s not much you can do. You can contact your provider and try to renegotiate ownership rights, but if they refuse, you may be out of luck.
Your best bet is to take your services elsewhere to a more reputable company and design a new website. However, before signing any more contracts, you need to make sure you’ll maintain ownership of both your website and your content.
Things to ask:
- Who will own the domain? – Make sure the domain is purchased in your name or that your hosting provider is willing to transfer the domain name as needed at no additional cost or conditions.
- How will the hosting work? Some website development companies will also offer hosting services. If they do, make sure you can switch providers at any time and still be able to take your website with you.
- Who will own the website and content? – If the answer is not you, beware! Watch out for the two common phrases we mentioned above.
Whether you need help deciphering who owns your website content, or you’ve fallen victim to an ownership trap and need to rebuild your website, our team at Yemba Digital is here to help.
We’ve had many organizations come to us in need of new content because they didn’t own their old content. We’ll work with your team to create new, better content that fits the needs of your church or nonprofit. And we’ll make sure you own it!
Reach out to our team today to schedule a call with us. We can’t wait to serve you.
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