Top 10 legal issues for Web developers

Published on .

1. Don't start work on a Web site project without a signed contract.

2. Include detailed specifications, including Web site features such as Shockwave or search engines.

3. Tie the customer's payment obligations to an objective standard, such as meeting a clearly defined milestone, rather than to a subjective one.

4. Make clear all the customer's obligations, such as delivering content according to a schedule and assigning a company liaison to work with you.

5. Although the customer will often own the completed site, make sure you retain ownership of Web site development tools and standardized routines.

6. If third party content such as software or graphics is to be incorporated in the site, the contract should address who is responsible for obtaining and paying for the rights to use such content.

7. Beware of ongoing obligations to the customer unless you are being adequately compensated for such obligations, such as site maintenance. Future enhancements should require addi tional payments to the developer.

8. Make sure you can live with any representations made, particularly those regarding issues such as intellectual property infringement. Disclaim or minimize liability for circumstances outside your control, such as clogged phone lines or problems accessing the server.

9. Make sure the contract anticipates problems that may arise in the parties' relationship. Under what circumstances can a party terminate the contract?

10. Never sign anything you don't understand. Web site development agreements are becoming increasingly complicated, and an experienced attorney should review your contract before it is signed.

Source: John Delaney, senior associate, Morrison & Foerster, New York

Most Popular
In this article: