Do You Own Your Domain Name?

Small business owners are busy running their businesses and often hire a web developer to build their website and administer it.

It is prudent for any website owner to have a website development agreement in place as there are many disputes which can and do occur int the web development process.  Website Development Agreements are often overlooked and this causes problems when unanticipated problems occur.

As the Sunshine Coast Daily reports, a Noosaville business owner discovered this dispute cast doubt over her ownership of her domain name.

She hired web developers to build her website two years ago, and when she decided to part company with the developer 12 months later due to dissatisfaction with their services, the website developer sent her a bill for $90 for the renewal of the registration of her domain name.

Enquiries revealed tht the renewal fees were only $24 for two years, and was then further shocked by the fact that the website in question was registered in the web developers name rather than being registered in her name.

She sought advice from auDA, the regulatory body for the .au domain space which advised her that at the time of application for domain name ownership it was open to the original owners to object to the transfer of the domain name to her.

Her ownership status revolved around whether, at the time the developers buit her original website she gave them permission, to put the website under her name. auDA  advises that payment implied agreement with any ownership arrangements

The dispute was resolved with the web developers agreeing to a request to cede transfer of the ownership of the website. 

However the incident underscores the importance of business owners  ensuring they obtain documentation showing that they own their domain name.

A WHOis search can reveals  current registration and ownership details for domain names. It will also yield other infomation about the domain name.  

If a whois search reveals that your web developer is the registered owner of your website, depending on the situation, you may need to seek a change of legal ownerhip or request that the registry records be updated by the domain name registrar  to reflect your ownership of your website.  However legally transferring an AU domain name won’t change the ABN/ACN or the original registrant name in the registry.

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