5 Legal Issues When Developing a New Website (And How to Avoid Them)

In this article, you'll see the top 5 legal issues when developing a new website and learn how to avoid them and their legal consequences.

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 25, 2022
5 Legal Issues When Developing a New Website (And How to Avoid Them)

When developing a website, there are common pitfalls that can result in legal consequences. Further, a website typically comes with exclusive rights you will want to enforce so they maintain their value. This includes preventing others from using your copyrighted work and trademarks without your permission. In this article, you’ll see the top 5 legal issues when developing a new website and learn how to avoid them.

5 Legal Issues When Developing a New Website (And How to Avoid Them)

You will want to protect your intellectual property from infringement and avoid infringing anyone else’s intellectual property rights. Infringement on either side can cost time, money, and energy to resolve. If you do discover that your rights have been infringed, then it is best to act quickly. Your rights will lose value if you do not enforce them.

Infringement of Your Copyright: Legal Issues Developing a Website

One best practice to deter others from infringing the copyright in your website content is to use the copyright symbol ‘©’. So, to provide notice of your rights followed by the name of the copyright owner and the first year of publication. You do not need to register your copyright to use the copyright symbol.

Nonetheless, copyright registration can provide several benefits that may vary depending on the jurisdiction in which you register. In Canada, for example, copyright registration can serve as proof of copyright subsistence. So, ownership and may also give rise to additional remedies in a litigated dispute. 

Infringement of Your Trademarks

Like with copyrighted material, you will want to protect any trademarks you may have. To provide public notice of your trademark use and discourage others from using your unregistered trademarks, you can use the ‘TM’ symbol. If you have registered your trademark, then you should use the ‘®’ symbol. However, do not use the ‘®’ symbol if the trademark is not ready. So, use in this manner may be a fraudulent misrepresentation in some jurisdictions. 

Infringement of Someone Else’s Copyright: Legal Issues Developing a Website

Not only will you want to protect your own website content from copyright infringement. But you will also want to avoid infringing the copyright in the content of others. You should be careful about the content you display or make available on your website. By exercising caution, you can increase your chances of avoiding copyright disputes, which can often involve monetary demands and, in some cases, result in lawsuits. 

Importantly, you should identify whether a license is in needs for each photo present on your website. If a license is important, then you will have to find the copyright owner and obtain their permission. This will likely require paying a licensing fee to the copyright owner to avoid legal issues developing a site. 

After obtaining a license, you will need to pay close attention to its terms. A license to use copyrighted material will likely not grant you unrestricted access to or use of the material.

Infringement of Someone Else’s Trademark

You cannot use a trademark that belongs to someone else as your trademark without their permission. Also, you cannot adopt and use a trademark that is confusingly similar to someone else’s trademark. Confusion is important not only in view of the degree of resemblance between the marks themselves. But also in view of the similarity between the goods and services with which each mark is in use.

Thus, identical marks used in association with different goods or services may not be confusing with one another. Conversely, marks that differ in appearance or sound are used in association with identical goods or services may be confusing with one another.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to use a trademark under license from the trademark owner. If you obtain such a license, then you will need to be mindful of the conditions of the licensing agreement. A license to use a trademark will not give you ownership of the intellectual property

Copyright Ownership: Legal Issues Developing a Website

When working with a designer for your website—or anyone else with whom you are contracting to create a copyrightable work—you should seek to ensure that you own the copyright going forward. Generally, an independent contractor who creates copyrighted material will be the first owner of the copyright. However, if you have hired someone to design your website, then you should seek to include a clause in your contract to assign ownership of the copyright to you. This will transfer ownership of the exclusive rights in the copyrighted material to you.

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.