The vast majority of the web sites we develop for clients include the web design, photography, graphics and writing of the content.
The web design, photography and graphics are all done to ensure the site looks great and maintains a consistency with the client’s brand.
We write the copy because we have vast experience at copy writing, and we need to ensure the site is well optimised for search engine placement (wording is critical for this).
What we’ve always done is complete the site, receive final payment and then send the client a letter assigning the copyright for the design (including photos and graphics) and the wording to the client.
I’m a stupid, stupid man!
My thinking has always been this: It’s the client’s site, they commissioned it, they paid for it and they should own the copyright. But I’m a stupid, stupid man.
I, as the web developer should retain the copyright to the site for some very good reasons. And those good reasons are twofold:
- It provides a better level of protection and quality for the client, and
- It provides me (as the web developer) with the ability to better grow my business.
Copy and graphics stolen
- I found a site today that had significant parts of its wording copied straight from a site we did.
- I found two- (2) other different sites that had copied over graphics and photographs we had developed for another site.
The site wording is developed according to a very sophisticated set of criteria. This criteria changes according to a key set of data which includes:
- search engine optimization issues
- seasonal fluctuations
- demographic of the market
- most wanted response
How we protect our client by retaining copyright
We are always out and about on the world wide web and are far more likely to identify a copyright breach.
If we identify a breach, we are far more likely to pursue it because we are more aware of the negative ramifications to the web site than our client.
Copied wording negatively affects search engine rankings
Let’s have a quick look at a simple ramification of someone copying web site text over verbatim.
A search engine generally ignores content that it has already seen on another web site. But the search engine cannot always tell which site had the copy up first – so the genuine site could be penalized!
That could mean a significant drop in search engine rankings. Which means far less visitors. Which means far fewer sales. All because some clown is either too lazy or too stupid to take the time to learn decent copy writing and/or search engine optimization techniques.
Let’s move on to take a quick look at how not having the copyright to our work can negatively impact on us:
Limits our ability to use our intellectual property
If we assign the copyright of a site to our client, that limits our ability to re-use key phrases and key words. They are key phrases and words that constitute our intellectual property – information that we can use to help our next client.
(I’ve found that part of our success with our niche markets is our access to numerous market segments – because of that we can adjust our web strategies so that the next client benefits from what we’ve learnt from the last client. If we don’t retain the copyright to our work, then we are very limited in being able to execute those strategies that we know work.
As a quick example of that, if we implement a particular key word phrase that assist in a site generating high search engine rankings, it follows that we would not be able to use that same phrase on other web sites.)
Today, after a very quick search, I found two- (2) web sites that have copied graphics we have developed. One was a series of 3 photographs that have been integrated together to form 1 image.
The other one was on a site were they had copied over product shots (we edited the photos extensively so that the product looked as good as possible).
The person stealing the graphic receives the commercial benefit of having a great looking graphic to promote the product or service he is trying to sell. And without having to do the work or allocate the resources to get the great graphic. That’s theft plain and simple.
And very annoying.