Hello everyone, first time posting here! I have a dilemma and I respectfully ask that those with legal 'net knowledge give some insight to the issue…
Here’s how it goes: There was originally a community website owned by another person (let’s call him Bob) using a different webhost. Bob had problems with keeping up the site’s maintenance, and after a few hacking attacks he let me take over its development and maintenance.
So I decided to scrap everything in the original website, and build a new one on my DreamHost account. Bob retained ownership of the domain and pointed the domain to my account.
I then set to work building the community website, and in time amassed a decently-sized and popular website with plenty of user content and customizations to the web applications I installed from scratch. Bob pretty much disappeared the entire time (for almost a year), dropping by every couple of months or so.
The last couple of months, me and other admins started building a new version of the site, to be placed on a different domain. We were going to just redirect the original domain to the new one, and slowly phase out the old domain until the new one came into dominance.
Bob was never a very likable guy in the first place, and recently we had a quarrel with Bob on how the site was managed. Bob then proceeded to redirect his old domain to another website without any warning, and we were forced to put the old site on the new domain prematurely. It goes without saying that it damaged the community on a large scale due to the confusion it caused, and we banned Bob as a result for web abuse.
This is not the primary issue. A month later Bob came back and sent me this message:
[quote]I will keep this short and sweet. Take down any forum posts and information prior to me switching the dns servers . You may, or may not be aware of the rights of a domain owner, the fact of the matter is who can claim the domain at any point in time, also can claim any content.
You are currently collecting money via google ads and various other affiliate programs on what I consider my property. You can take this message as you will, but I will and intend to fight this to the letter of the law and will pursue this in a legal fashion. It would behoove you to yield to this request and comply.
Should you decide not to comply with my reasonable request, I will be forced to pursue any and all civil actions against you and all parties associated with (the new domain/site) for costs, damages and associated fees.
Thanks for your consideration in this matter.
I want to know how much right he has to claim to own the content of the site. I owned the webhosting account afterall, none of the content in the site was made by him or was originally his, all he happened to own was the web domain that it pointed to for less than a year. And now all the site content is located on the domain that I own.
Who has more rights to the content? It’s like saying that I could purchase a domain, point it to any site, and then claim to own it. Granted it was to dreamhost’s dns server and I registered it to the dreamhost account, but in my opinion that makes for a massive gray area.
Your thoughts are most appreciated, thanks!
(By the way, we’re complying to his demands and will be rolling in the new site tonight on our own domain/account. But I would still like to get this straightened out, and may want to archive the old content for public access. Also, the only revenue generated were from google ads, which is registered to my google account)