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Story :

I wanted to build a website so i have hired a New Delhi India based agency.

Initially they told me it will charge $2000 but they have charged me $6000 till now.

And they have not completed the project and today they have send me an email telling that they will transfer the ownership.

My question :

  1. Why they are claiming they are owner ?
  2. Is there any legal action i can take against him ?

Here is the part of email :

Continuing support from Company_Name, We suggest you to not to do any kind of changes using the domain cpanel & ftp login details. Let us inform you that after releasing the credentials, if any issues like- Website Hacking, Errors and Major Virus issues, DNS Updation, Data misuse, Running of wrong functionality on website or any kind of negative changes happens in the website using the domain cpanel & ftp login details, Then Company_Name will not responsible for that, Also if such kind of things happens and if you want us to resolve the issues then there will be possibility that it will be done on ADDON basis and depends case to case.

  • Please guide me if this question not belong this website instead downvote – Kanika Jan 8 at 10:47
  • The downvote wasn't mine, but both questions will depend on the contract you have with Company_Name. It will also depend on how much you have paid so far - have you paid the $6000 (US?), and what does the contract say you could expect for that? There is insufficient information here for us to interpret, but from the description so far I think consulting a local lawyer would be a good idea. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Jan 8 at 12:12
  • Yes I have paid $6000 (More than 4 lakhs INR) US dollar , The contract was for $2000 later they have asked Bla-Bla will cost more as i was not much aware and they cheated me badly. It was my dream project and wanted to launch on 1st Jan 2019 and still they have not deliver it, So i have decided to find another agency – Kanika Jan 8 at 12:33
  • What does the contract say you could expect for $2000? (In particular, what does it say about domain ownership?) – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Jan 8 at 12:38
  • In contract they will provide 1 years of hosting and including support, In contract the due date was for 45 days but it's too late almost 6 months – Kanika Jan 8 at 12:43
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The email quoted does not say anything about domain ownership. It says that if you use the hosting hosting company's tools to modify the contents of the web site, you might cause problems, and if that happens, the web design company Company_Name will not be responsible. Further it says that if that happens, and you want Company_Name to fix the problem, there will be an additional charge.

As to ownership, the web design firm will own the copyright on the web code that they wrote, unless your contract specifies that you will own it from the start (work made for hire) or that they will transfer it to you (assignment), perhaps after you pay for it. If you supplied any documents for them to place on the site, the copyright to those will remain unchanged, Company_Name will not get ownership of such copyrights.

(Note that, in the US at least, "work made for hire" can apply to a contract job, but only if the contract explicitly says so. I don't know if that is true under the law of India.)

As to ownership of the domain, that will depend entirely on the language in the contract that you signed with Company_Name. If you paid for the domain registration, it is reasonable for you to own the domain, but the contract will control.

The quoted email implies that you have been given the passwords to the cpanel and ftp accesses to the site, which would allow you to change anything on the site, or engage a different firm to make future changes. This would typically imply that you had "ownership" of the site, but again, everything depends on the wording of your contract with Company_Name.

Note that ownership of the copyright to the web code used, ownership of the copyright to other content displayed on the web, ownership of the domain, and ownership of the site (i.e. the right to make and control changes to it), are all separate, and it would be possible for each of these to rest in a separate entity. It would be common for the design firm to retain ownership of the web code, and license it to the client. ownership of the domain and the site would be more likely to go to the client, but the design firm could retain all or any of these, if that was the agreement. Any not owned by the site owner would need to be licensed so that the site owner could use them. Such a license might be permanent, or might expire after some period.

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