A friend of mine recently came to me for help.

He entered into a contract with an acquantance for roughly the following:

producing videos on a monthly basis of him explaining what he does and how he helps people
– building, hosting, and maintaining a new (second) website for me (he owns the URL)
– onsite and offsite SEO for this new website
– posting content to his Facebook page
– hosting his emails
– creating a new YouTube channel specific for his new website
– publishing his videos to his two YouTube channels (and evidently to other video networks that he have never seen)

He continued past his 1 year agreement because some of the videos had gotten really good engagement on YouTube and Facebook. But after he recalculated his growth in the 2nd year, he found that the return on investment was not enough to continue with their service package, so he requested a cancellation.

The response he got was that the company owns all of the “creative works” of his brand and his “brand profile” including:
– all the videos that were created for him
– his new website (though he owns the domain)
– the new YouTube channel that was created
– and any other created content

Here’s my advice:

You have a hostage situation, which is a common ploy by unscrupulous web developers.  The other ploy is to lock you out of access, too.

I’m not a lawyer, but we have seen this happen a lot.  

  • First, make sure you have all the assets downloaded in a folder you control.  We can help you do that if necessary.
  • Second, ask him how much he wants for the rights to use your assets. If it’s under $1,000, then just pay it, even though you may be right– just to be done. People who do trades (services for services) are either close friends or broke.
  • Third, since you’ve already paid him, please share the contract with us to review. We can determine scope of work and fair market value. It may be that we can just re-create the videos and even do better. Then no hassle and we’re done.
  • Fourth, have a lawyer write a demand letter– they will say tortious interference or something– and that usually works, scaring them. It would cost $100 to $150.