Important Aspects to Consider in Your Website Agreement
by Chris Hinson
When negotiating your website agreement, it is important to consider several factors: Who will own the copyright to your website? What happens if service is interrupted? Who is responsible for maintaining and updating the website and how often must it be done?
The company you hire to create your website will own the copyright unless your agreement with them says otherwise. A website consists of many pieces: There is the computer code, graphics, text, and photographs. A different person or entity could own the copyright to each piece. For example, if you create the text and provide it to your website developer, you own the copyright to that text.
Your website agreement should state that each party warrants that it owns or has permission to use any copyrighted material that it provides for the website. You don't want to be sued by a third party for copyright infringement.
Chances are your website will be located on the web developers' server and that they will be responsible for maintaining it for you. Make sure that is addressed in the website agreement. Will the company update your site and if so, how often? What kind of effort are they responsible for? Will they make sure your links to other websites continue to be valid or will they only make changes if you request it?
If the web developer maintains your site on its server, your agreement should also address the remedies for interruptions of service. While infrequent interruptions are inevitable, you don't want your website to be "down" all the time. If you expect to derive a significant amount of income directly from your website you may want your agreement to address what actions the web developer will take to get your site "up" again, i.e. temporarily transferring it to another server.
Your website agreement will likely contain some kind of liability or indemnification clause. The web developer does not want to be held responsible for your lost business when the website is not running. The web developer may also have concerns about being responsible as a third party to your customers or to others.
Finally, your website agreement should address the issue of which State's laws apply to your agreement with the web developer. You should also specify whether a lawsuit would be filed in your state or the web developer's state, in the event the agreement ends up in court.