Website Ownership: Who owns your website?

Article by Matt Vickers

While it’s easy to look at a website as a whole, much like your physical storefront, it’s made up of several different parts. You have the domain name, hosting, the design, custom written code, photography and written content.  So what do you own vs what do you control.    Unfortunately, unlike your storefront, not all of it is actually owned by you.  In several cases you’re leasing.

DOMAIN NAME…  I personally consider this the most important element for you to control.  I say control because you don’t actually own your domain name.  You technically lease it for a small fee each year.  This is that pretty website name you put on all your marketing materials and online ads, which is why I consider this the most important thing to control.

HOSTING…  So your hosting is the place where your website resides.  Its basically your online storefront.  Its also one of the elements you don’t own… you’re a tenant in the building.

Now the next two parts can live in a nice gray area or township and control… the design of the site and the content.

WEB DESIGN…  The design of your website and any code written is initially owned by the agency or individual that created it.  Ownership of the design and code can be transferred but that is at the discretion of that agency or person.  Be sure to ask.  

SOFTWARE… Software that is used in the creation of your website is usually licensed and in most cases that license will have to be renewed each year.

CUSTOM CODE… Much like the design of your site, any custom code written for your website is owned by the person that created the code.  Ownership can also be transferred but is not always included as part of the design.  Again be sure to ask.

WRITTEN CONTENT & PHOTOS…  Finally, the content on your website.  Photographs you took and written content you wrote yourself belong to you. If an agency tries to tell you otherwise be very cautious.   

If you hire someone to write content for you, you should be able to gain ownership upon payment but as always, be sure to ask.

Stock photography is licensed for a particular use… in this case, your website.  So depending on the license that was purchased you won’t typically be able to use those images elsewhere.

How does 812SOLUTIONS handle ownership?

The short and simple answer is your website is YOURS!  Once your website is finalized and ready to go live, we can move your site to your own hosting account and its yours, limited only by any license that pertain to stock photos or custom code.

While we do have many clients  that purchase our maintenance packages and have us handle their websites,  the ownership is still theirs.  So if you should ever decide you want to maintain your site yourself we will move it to your hosting.  

Then there are those that fall in between.  We have clients that have us maintain there website while they handle the content and blogs themselves.