by sans
25 replies
  • WEB DESIGN
  • |
Hello,

I am having a problem with a web designer and would like some help please.
I paid $900.00AUD for a one page design that I supplied photo and background for.

Once it was made and I approved it they are now saying I cannot own it.
That they have complete control of it and I can not add any pages to it and
they seem to have the copyright.
Plus they want me to pay half of the hosting each month they say is $117.00 AUD a month

I put a word-press blog on hostgator for only $10 a month.

Is this right?
What are my rights please

Thank you
Sandra
#advice #legal
  • Profile picture of the author RyanRobinson
    Wow, $900 is pretty steep for a 1 page design. And $117 a month is absolutely rediculous for hosting, even dedicated server hosting doesn't cost that much. They sound like cowboys to me.

    Did you sign a contract or terms and conditions with them? If not, your not tied to any legally binding contract and you are in your own right to ask some questions.
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  • Profile picture of the author sans
    Yes I did sign a contract, but I did not read anywhere on it that they have copyright to it.
    I have not paid the hosting fee for the past two months and now they are on my back about it.

    Looks like I have been truly cheated.
    I have no idea what to do now.

    Thank tou for your swift reply.
    Sandra
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    • Profile picture of the author KirkMcD
      Originally Posted by sans View Post

      I have no idea what to do now.
      Talk to a lawyer. Consultations are usually free.
      Bring the contract with you.
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      • Profile picture of the author nelsencaleb
        Banned
        Originally Posted by KirkMcD View Post

        Talk to a lawyer. Consultations are usually free.
        Bring the contract with you.
        I'd go with this guys advice. I hear a lot of people say lawyers should be your last choice, but $900 it a lot of money. ESPECIALLY for 1 page. Can I see this website? Especially also since they wont let you add more. Just see a lawyer lol. These guys are scamming you.
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        • Profile picture of the author Kay King
          If you trust the lawyer to know what he's doing, sounds like you are stuck.

          Was the "hosting fee" in the contract? If not, I might seek a second legal opinion from a lawyer specializing in internet processes or in copyright. I don't why anyone would agree to a contract with that fee in it - and if it isn't in the contract...was that covered at all? You may have to wait six months to control the site but I really question whether you have to pay that overpriced hosting fee. That would be a specific question I would ask if you haven't already.

          Several have mentioned US law - but that doesn't apply here. The site itself (link is in San's post above) is eye catching though a bit slow loading.

          We've seen posts here by members talking about how much they get for simple sites for offline businesses - and many quote prices higher than $900. Price is subjective - but the refusal to turn over the site and the hosting fee boggle my mind.

          Next time - check the contract with a lawyer BEFORE you sign it.

          Good luck.

          kay
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          • Profile picture of the author sans
            I would like to thank you all for your advice, as I have been so stressed I could not think straight, reading your comments has given me a clear mind.

            I have written down several points to raise with the publisher that you have suggested.

            My husband came through his op okay and is doing well.
            I came home from the hospital after visiting him and curled up on my couch and cried I could not do that before as I had to be strong for my husband, don't feel sorry for me as it did me good I got it out of my system and read all your comments and formed a letter to the publisher.

            I feel stronger now as I am normally a timid person and let people get away with things.
            I just snapped and thought why should I let this guy upset and cheat us this way.

            You want to know something funny, (well its not really) but I had to laugh I was looking for the contract and could not find it and remembered I left it on the lawyers desk,
            so I rang the lawyer and asked him if I could pick it up and he said he has misplaced it and would get his secretary to post it to me,

            I could think he up above don't like me but I guess it is the state of mind I have been in that has caused it, it was me that forgot to pick it up, so I shall keep calm and try be
            positive and all will turn out fine.

            Thank you all again for getting me in this frame of mind.
            I will keep you posted as to my progress.
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  • Profile picture of the author susiem
    Absolutely agree with the above individuals. The prices are totally rediculous.

    Always check around and do research before investing your money into a service.

    Best advice with consult with a lawyer as spoken by KirkMD also the payment processors if you did payment thru them.

    Susie
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary King
    Sandra,

    Sorry you're having this issue - it stinks.

    A lawyer is the only one that can answer your questions unfortunately. That said, at least in the U.S., web design falls under a work for hire situation. The company/person paying the bill would own the design because they are paying someone to do the work.

    I wish you a speedy (and inexpensive) resolution!

    Gary
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  • Profile picture of the author sans
    Thank you all for your advice,
    I am going to a lawyer next week, this whole thing has made
    me quite ill.

    I reread the contract and it says to terminate I have to give 6 months
    notice and all money owing must be paid in full up to date of termination.
    I guess that means I have to pay the hosting fee up to then as I paid
    for the design in full at time of completion.
    Thank you all I will let you know what the lawyer says next week.
    Sandra
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    • Profile picture of the author swiminsoda
      Originally Posted by sans View Post

      Thank you all for your advice,
      I am going to a lawyer next week, this whole thing has made
      me quite ill.

      I reread the contract and it says to terminate I have to give 6 months
      notice and all money owing must be paid in full up to date of termination.
      I guess that means I have to pay the hosting fee up to then as I paid
      for the design in full at time of completion.
      Thank you all I will let you know what the lawyer says next week.
      Sandra

      I truly understand how you feel. I come from a family of lawyers and even so they could not help because the producer I hired was in another country. For you to hire a lawyer for the case would cost you more than what you have spent already on the designer.

      Look through what are the clauses that bind you to a 6 months notice. Is it web hosting? Tell them you will review the contract with a lawyer and get back to them. They cannot do much unless they threathen to sue you and it makes a difference if they are residing in the same country as you. Either way, they will have to finance a lawyer if they think they have a case, which base on my experience, they will not spend $1000+ to get back that few 100s you owe them.

      Your rights: They can threathen to sue you to which you can just decide to pay up once their lawyer has verified the contract details. Should take a few months at least..

      Let us know how it turns out with your lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author sans
    Hello All,
    Update the lawyer has looked over the contract and I am stuck with it
    I have put in writing to cancel it and in six months once I have paid all I owe
    I will be given the site and copyright.

    Thank you
    Sandra
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  • Profile picture of the author IndigoJack
    I'd like to see this $900AUD one page design because it must surely be the most fantastic one page website design EVER SEEN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!

    I have an acquaintance that found himself in a similar situation with Banners. He paid for them and was using them but when he wanted to ditch the company they wouldn't hand over the originals without a further $500 fee being paid. They said they owned the copyright. The file type completely distorted when he copied them so could not be used for print.

    He was able to walk away but he still had no banners so..

    All the images used in the banners were his, so his solution was to have a new designer make new versions that looked almost identical. It cost him a tiny fraction of what the original banner designer wanted to release the originals.

    Therefore once your one page design is back online either you or a web designer copy it, screen shot it or whatever. Then later should your cowboy website design company try to cause you further financial grief, you will at least have a copy.

    A website designer would be able to produce a one page website from that copy very easily - copying is much easier than being original - and for a tiny fraction of the costs you have already incurred.

    Legal - This cowboy website design company, by stating that they retain copyright of your website they are also taking responsibility for the content of that website and the activities of the business it represents. Your business. So they are financially liable for any legal action taken against your business in relation to that web page.

    So my approach would be to make use of that fact in the form of a threat of legal action aimed at the copyright holder - them. Turn the tables on them.
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  • Profile picture of the author sans
    Thank you for that info Indigojack,
    Here is what happened, my husband had a book published not knowing much about this we paid $1200 for them to edit and print 2000 copies we were given 100 of those copies,
    The publisher told us we need a website to advertise the book and he would arrange it
    telling us it needs to be professional to get in to top of google and other search engins
    so we agreed beliving he knew what he was doing, now this is where he brings in another company to sell the book and build the site. when it was first shown to me I told him the background was bad and gave him one I had and they used it then I asked for the format to be bigger as I could not read it. I have been around long enough to know how to read source code and when I checked it had no meter tags so I asked for them to add some plus maybe put a google sitemap in they added the tags but not the map.

    I asked if for the price I paid could they add a about the Author page as my husband wanted to have that to also put some photos relevant to his book, but they said no and put a logo to a facebook page and a logo to a wordpress site I have no login details for when I asked about this they said I have to write and request the details I did not bother asking again for the website to be built my way but they refused when I asked about copyright they did not answer me if you look at the site you will see the copyright is in their name.
    Since we have had this problem we have found out that we are with what is known as a vanity publisher and they are not recommended by other Authors we have spoken to.
    That said the contract is legal and binding the way it is written.
    I asked again why is the hosting fee so high and they said some went to them advertising the site so I asked where they are advertising they said on network sites and news papers I have not seen any advertising apart from what I have done myself

    I have been in our library and looked through all the news papers and not one mention of our book so I am stumped as when I email them with a question they get around it somehow.
    If its okay here is the site The Night I Went Out With Tracy
    I am not good at website building but I did have a craft site some time ago on wordpress and it looked better that this.
    I would love to know what you think.
    Once again
    Thank you.
    Sandra
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Wells
    Look at this article;

    AIGA Center for Practice Management - Copyright Basics for Graphic Designers

    under these two article titles below...

    What about “work made for hire”
    What happens if the work is not made for hire?
    These are the laws in the US concerning Graphic Design and most people do not know them.
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  • Profile picture of the author jpibanez
    My goodness, 900$ for a 1 Page Design. That design must have Gold in it. Anyway, I advice that you just do the math. If you think going back at them will cost you more than just settling. Settle.

    If I were in your position, I'd just use the last six months and utilize whatever I can than go and make a fight. I don't want to make things complicated. I'd rather be off doing things that can make me more money than spending more and start a fire.

    But hey, I agree with a lot of you guys. 900$ for a 1 page design and 100$ a month for hosting is a ripoff.
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  • Profile picture of the author phpbbxpert
    Also, the page is Flash.
    Has no DocType (so it is not validly coded)
    And no meta description which is more important the meta key words since Google does not consider meta key words for rank.

    So SEO will be quite poor on this page.

    "The night I went out with Tracy" is a pretty unique line and should rank #1 with ease. Especially with an identical URL. But it fails because of the items above.

    Just thought I would mention it..
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve Wells
      If I were you as soon as I could I would get out of the contract with these people and go on my own, these guys are obvioulsy trying to milk you for every dollar they can get.....

      You could have someone build you a webpage from this forum, eCover ect... all for less than $400.00 dollars easily, you might even be able to get some promotion for that price, (if after getting out of the contract you will own the already designed page, then have someone tweak it (you'll need the psd files for that) so that the bottom scroll bar does not show up, meaning it has to be less wide than it is) then promote the webpage yourself and the book, there are many other options.

      I would do this on pure principle, once I saw that this company was not honest or that they were trying to scam me.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
      Does your contract spell out exactly what THEY were supposed to be doing? Because they have obligations under the contract just as you do and if they have not fulfilled their end, you may be able to do something about breach of contract.

      Tina
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  • Profile picture of the author sans
    EWGQDD, I just read this above what you mentioned

    Copyright is the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your creative work. Copyright protects any kind of artwork, including illustrations, photographs and graphic design. Except under certain circumstances (see “work made for hire” below), you own the copyright in your work at the moment you create it in a “fixed” form of “expression.” A fixed form of expression is any tangible medium that can be perceived by humans, including traditional forms—such as paintings, sculptures, writings—and new forms that require a machine to perceive (e.g., GIF files, CDs, websites).

    Is it their creative work when I supplied the news article the photo and the background?
    Or is it my work that they just stuck together?
    And yes I am trying to get out as soon as I can, I am just riding it out as I don't have much money left to hire lawyers for a fight.

    Tina thank you, they said the cost included advertising but I have been advertising in as many places as I can and have not seen any evidence of them advertising and when I asked where they placed ads I did not get a coherent answer.
    So I will look into that.

    This has made me ill with stress and my husband is even worse he is in hospital, in a few hours he will be having surgery he has been so stressed his blood pressure skyrocketed and he got chest pains we thought he was having a heart attack but they found a blockage in his carotid artery so are clearing it.
    This is why I am here trying to sort it out before the stress kills him.

    I will keep you all posted on my next move.
    and thank you for giving me some more ammo to fire at these people.
    Bless you
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve Wells
      Honestly I do not know the answer to that fully. I do not even know if Australia falls under the AIGA, I suspect not? But that whole page I reffered you to has some very informative information for you and anyone else who is concerned or wants to know about Graphics Related laws in the USA. I wish I could be of more help to you....

      I know its your product and all and its stressful for your husband and you, but NOTHING is worth letting yourself become so stressed out that your health is affected.

      If you can, just get out of the contract with them, that would be my best advice, simply because they seem to have not been upfront with you, (sure they have it in the contract) but if they were honest and truly helpful and not out to take your money, they would have went over that contract with you and what it means to you, I would think?

      At the most you will be out the money you have already spent and owe, dont let this issue take you or your husbands health also.... which is way more valuable.....its just money, you can always make more money, but your health is very, very important to have in order to make more money.

      Originally Posted by sans View Post

      EWGQDD, I just read this above what you mentioned

      Copyright is the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your creative work. Copyright protects any kind of artwork, including illustrations, photographs and graphic design. Except under certain circumstances (see “work made for hire” below), you own the copyright in your work at the moment you create it in a “fixed” form of “expression.” A fixed form of expression is any tangible medium that can be perceived by humans, including traditional forms—such as paintings, sculptures, writings—and new forms that require a machine to perceive (e.g., GIF files, CDs, websites).

      Is it their creative work when I supplied the news article the photo and the background?
      Or is it my work that they just stuck together?
      And yes I am trying to get out as soon as I can, I am just riding it out as I don't have much money left to hire lawyers for a fight.

      Tina thank you, they said the cost included advertising but I have been advertising in as many places as I can and have not seen any evidence of them advertising and when I asked where they placed ads I did not get a coherent answer.
      So I will look into that.

      This has made me ill with stress and my husband is even worse he is in hospital, in a few hours he will be having surgery he has been so stressed his blood pressure skyrocketed and he got chest pains we thought he was having a heart attack but they found a blockage in his carotid artery so are clearing it.
      This is why I am here trying to sort it out before the stress kills him.

      I will keep you all posted on my next move.
      and thank you for giving me some more ammo to fire at these people.
      Bless you
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  • Profile picture of the author miked
    Go get'm!

    This is sickening, to think that there are businesses that want to pull this kind of horse manure on unsuspecting business owners.

    Good luck to you.

    And there are a number of GREAT graphic designers here on the WF. I have hired several, been super pleased, and their prices are great.

    When you get your legal matters resolved, just come back to the WF for your website needs - I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality, customer service, and pricing you get from the members here.

    Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author IndigoJack
    UK copyright law is much the same as US copyright law as referred to by EWGQQD.

    They are using copyright law to screw money out of you and it's disgusting.

    There is an element of 'fair practise' that the vast majority of web designers/graphic designers employ when working for a client. Mostly it is unwritten because they are not out to screw the client.

    There are two points of query here:
    1.Does their contract state in explicit detail that they retain copyright even after you have paid their $900 fee?
    2.What they have done, they haven't done very well. They can't hold you to a contract if their work is rubbish and is harming your chances of selling your product.

    Do you have any sort of access to a control panel for the gold plated one page site? If not, have you ever? Have they always withheld access to your webpage from you?

    You only have 100 copies of the books that you have paid for. You need them all. Why are they withholding them? Is there going to be another tussle to gain possession of those?

    I am really sorry that this has happened to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Karen Blundell
      oh this just makes my blood boil.
      Gives a bad name to web designers everywhere.

      I'm so sorry this happened to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author sans
      Originally Posted by IndigoJack View Post

      UK copyright law is much the same as US copyright law as referred to by EWGQQD.

      They are using copyright law to screw money out of you and it's disgusting.

      There is an element of 'fair practise' that the vast majority of web designers/graphic designers employ when working for a client. Mostly it is unwritten because they are not out to screw the client.

      There are two points of query here:
      1.Does their contract state in explicit detail that they retain copyright even after you have paid their $900 fee?
      2.What they have done, they haven't done very well. They can't hold you to a contract if their work is rubbish and is harming your chances of selling your product.

      Do you have any sort of access to a control panel for the gold plated one page site? If not, have you ever? Have they always withheld access to your webpage from you?

      You only have 100 copies of the books that you have paid for. You need them all. Why are they withholding them? Is there going to be another tussle to gain possession of those?

      I am really sorry that this has happened to you.
      No we have never had any access to the site, we were told we can have access to a face book page and a wordpress blog that is it.
      They gave us 100 copies of the book we gave a few away and sold the rest to friends, we asked for more and was told they need them for selling and to send to bookshop buyers as far as I know they have not approached any book shops as I and a few friends have asked for the book in different shops and they have not heard of it,

      I was also told they would put it on amazon but I can not find it there either.
      I have asked five times for more books to be sent to me even offering to pay postage
      but not had any other answer.

      They were suppose to arrange a book launch with Bob signing his book but that never happened, nor did the radio interview they said they had organized.

      So I am making a list of all these things and forming a letter to ask for proof of them advertising and for a log of how many books they have sold, as in the contract they say will be given every 30 days but I have heard nothing from them and when they do answer my emails they don't answer my questions.
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  • Profile picture of the author cma01
    Your terms of your contract are whatever you agree to.

    Honestly, I think the site looks like it was designed by a professional graphic artist. A lot of professional agencies charge more than that just for a poster or flyer.

    Would I have put something up on the internet like that regardless of how pretty it was? No, but it is your responsibility to find out what you are getting when you signed the contract.

    It's not like you paid $900 for a site using an Xfactor template.
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