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Pugzly
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 127.0.0.1
Insane since: Apr 2000

posted posted 12-31-2003 19:58

Interesting -

So I build this website that gains national attention. I pour my heart and soul into this site. I eat all the costs for the client.

Two years of hard work later, I decide it's no longer feasible to support it, so I notify the client that I'm going to take the site down (since I own every piece of it - from domain names to design to hosting space) unless we can find a way to fund it. A year goes by with very little effort on the client's side to do anything.

So, Dec. 15th, I sent a "it's going down at the end of the month" letter. That really stirred the pot up. Now, they're threatening legal action, including Cybersquatting claims (baseless, and they'd know that if they actually READ something about cybersquatting). "We'll take action to prevent sale to a third party...." they say. They obviously didn't do their homework before saying that, either.

I spoke to the law firm that's going to represent me in any action, but I'm curious as to what you guys would do. They're not willing to pay, and I've got tons of info that shows I've always owned the domain names. There's never been a written or verbal contract as to what would happen to the domain names in the event of termination of the web site.

Emperor
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist with Finglongers

From: Cell 53, East Wing
Insane since: Jul 2001

posted posted 12-31-2003 20:54

Pugzly: I can't add much but it is a shame you had to do this as you were doing lots of good work there and it had the chance to be award winning.

I suppose in the end the moral is that a contract (no matter how small the job) is there to protect both parties from this kind of misunderstanding. The real pain in his kind of thing is that it is so avoidable (its not like you don't know everyone invovled and you are doing this to hold them to ransom or anything ).

Good luck and keep us informed on how things go

___________________
Emps

The Emperor dot org

JKMabry
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: out of a sleepy funk
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 12-31-2003 20:57

Is this the sherriff site? I know you've put a lot into that one anyhow. Ummm, tough situation whatever the case.

If it is the sherrif site (or any other for that matter if the name is "theirs"), they may be able to get the domain from you but no way they can get the site that you built for free. If thhere's no contracts, tons of receipts where you've spent your own money on it, and the site itself that you've done on your own, well, they haven't a leg to stand on.

If it were me, I would write an apologetic letter (stuff the ego in a sack for the duration of your dealings with them), return receipt requested:

  • offering to sell them the domain name for the buyout price on the remainder of the registration (since you have no use for it)
  • offering to sell them the site itself, as is, for a fixed price, whatever you figure it's worth
  • offering hosting if they want it
  • offering maintenance services if they want it



If they want some or all, give it to em cheerfully, at your market price and thank them for their business, and apologize for getting them hooked on the freebie in the first place, explain your passion and that it got out of hand and just cost and cost and cost.

If they don't want any at fair prices, then advise them that if they sue you will countersue for the 2 years of development, maintenance, hosting, domain name services, IT services and lawyer fees associated with the mess. I'd think that is as equally ridiculous as any suit they may bring against you, especially after the kind offer in the letter. In fact, it would cease to be rediculous after the reasonable offer I'd think. (From what you've said I'm assuming there is no contract involved whatsoever, so both sides should just be even really. They could take the domain name, you'd get everything else tho.

Just try to keep your own feelings in check through the process and try to see their side as much as you can. Sorry to hear about this. Good luck with it. Hope you can keep a good relationship and get out of it with minimal damage, maybe a paying customer and a good realtionship. It's possible!

There's my amateur lawyering for the day.

Pugzly
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 127.0.0.1
Insane since: Apr 2000

posted posted 12-31-2003 21:41

Thanks! More comments are welcome!

There is/was NO contract - verbal, written, or otherwise.

They can't get it via cybersquatting because two things MUST be evident:
1. The entity making the cybersquatting claim has to hold the trademark (the don't - in fact, they CAN'T trademark it).
2. They have to show that our intent was to unlawfully profit by selling the domains back to them at an inflated profit (similar to extortion). We've done actual work, and we've got proof we never tried to profit (just recoup costs).

Too bad, too. 9 awards, 3 million hits per month from 60 countries......hate to see my work go down the drain, but they just don't want to help. And never have.

JKMabry
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: out of a sleepy funk
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 12-31-2003 23:23

and now your passion that drives the charitable "build it and they will come" attitude is seasoned with a dash of "show me the money". Good deal, and we get to learn from your mistakes! Bonus =D

I'm sure everyone's done it (I have), just not to that degree maybe. Great reminder, Doc said it once (and I paraphrased it), 'if you don't put a value on your services, no one else will'

Pugzly
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 127.0.0.1
Insane since: Apr 2000

posted posted 01-02-2004 02:37

Well, I'm not suprised by the outcome (or the fact that the media is now calling).

I guess what bugs me the most is the lack of enthusiasm from the client to get it resolved before the situation degraded.....

JKMabry
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: out of a sleepy funk
Insane since: Aug 2000

posted posted 01-02-2004 03:14

I think you should quit calling them clients - it infers that they paid you =) you never know when the media is snooping around the OA

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

posted posted 01-02-2004 04:03

Can't add much, except to say that it is a damn shame. Both in that the site has to come down, and in that they have the attitude they do about it all.

Hope it works out for you...

(of course, I would also be sure to point out - perhaps even in the form of an itemized invoice - exactly what the cost of building, hosting, and maintaining this site has been to you, including reasonable fees for the manhours spent.)

[This message has been edited by DL-44 (edited 01-02-2004).]

Pugzly
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 127.0.0.1
Insane since: Apr 2000

posted posted 01-02-2004 04:15

We've got monthly invoices that detail EVERYTHING, so I'm not concerned there.

I'm actually a little relieved that the site is down now - only because it's no longer a drain on resources. I'm disappointed in the fact that it's down - only because it was quite an effort and was a valuable resource.

Ah well. Life goes on.

Pugzly
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: 127.0.0.1
Insane since: Apr 2000

posted posted 01-02-2004 04:23
quote:
I think you should quit calling them clients - it infers that they paid you =) you never know when the media is snooping around the OA



Well, I'm trying to take the high road. If the media wants to know what's going on, they can call (and have). I'll wait until stuff shows up online or on TV. I'm trying to stay professional in nature, especially since I deal with some of the same people for another project (that IS paying)......

Tyberius Prime
Paranoid (IV) Mad Scientist with Finglongers

From: Germany
Insane since: Sep 2001

posted posted 01-02-2004 21:54

When in doubt, stay professional sounds like a usefull heuristic to me.


Oh, but it probably would be fair to warn the visitors of the website that it's going down...
and tell them the story.
If you want to be a tad bit mean about it, give the client's email address for complaints as well ;-)
But that would be slightly unprofessional.
Could be fun, though ;-)

[edit: OK the situation has got more serious - see this thread here for further discussion of this matter (and I'll shut this one down - irect all discussion there):
http://www.ozoneasylum.com/Forum1/HTML/008725.html ]

[This message has been edited by Emperor (edited 01-28-2004).]

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