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Beware – Many businesses who have a website don’t own the copyright contained therein and it could cost significant sums of money to obtain such ownership.

Normally, the individual or business who authored the work will own the copyright and is referred to as the ‘first owner of copyright’. However, if an employee produces work as part of his/her employment, then the first owner will normally be the employer. Where one party is commissioned by another to undertake work, such work is usually owned by the author unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

According to research undertaken last year by UK retailer Shop Direct, 95% of us shop online which makes not having a website a little like not having a shop front on what the main street used to be. It is therefore surprising to know that many businesses in the UK still do not have a website. Depending upon which statistics you look at, it is anything from 20% upwards!

If you are a business without a website you are probably missing out on significant sales. If you decide to create a new website (particularly where the work is outsourced), please ensure that the creators have transferred the copyright to you. Otherwise, trying to get it transferred after it is created might turn out to be costly.

In the past, very few businesses outside of publishing have needed to understand copyright law. But now every business with a website is a publisher.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you would like any further information or advice please email

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