As a customer, there is no authority to say that you own the web space that you use. You certainly own the right to the intellectual property that you have in the domain name. But there is very little authority to say that you actually own the right to the hard drive space on which you host your website. The contract that you have with your web hosting provider is in the nature of a lease, of space – not sale of ownership.
The intellectual property you have in the code on your website
You certainly own the intellectual property in the code on the pages on your website. Such as the html, the java script, the SQL tables. You should certainly take steps to protect your rights in these intellectual properties you have. You can copyright it, so that others cannot imitate your website. Even if you have not copyrighted it, you can sue others who imitate your website for the tort of “passing off”.
The intellectual property you have in the domain name
Your domain name is your intellectual right. It gives you the right to prevent others from using that very domain name for any purpose. If however you own the trade mark to a particular name, and someone is trying to “pass off” your trade mark using a domain name that someone else owns – you can sue them. This can be done through the arbitration clause that the domain name owner has with his registrar. You can also get injunctive relief through a court. It is also indeed true that certain intellectual property rights are incapable of being resolved through arbitration, and accordingly must be ruled on through courts, in accordance with rule of law. WIPO provides a very efficient system to address such issues.
The intellectual property you have in the trademarks, and copyrighted material in the content you have on your website
The intellectual property you have in your marks, and content you have on your website is certainly valid and standing. If you have a logo, or content up on the website – you can certainly protect it by enforcing that. If someone is copying content from your website you can probably find that out from this website called copyscape. They track everything on the internet and track “copied content”. Some of their services are paid and some are free – so if you do have a lot of content that you want to protect, you may want to think about buying their paid services.
In short, other than the actual ownership of the hard drive space used by you, you probably own the rights to everything on your website. You should be proactive and protect the rights you have in these things, so that others do not take advantage of it. This is in your best business interest, and pecuniary interest. Not only can you prevent others from copying your stuff, you can also affirmatively use your rights to prevent others from put up content.
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