Moving your website to another host and another designer

Whether or not you run into problems depends on any agreements you may have put in place when you first contracted the host/maintainer.

 

Ownership of websites is complex

 

Ownership can be a complex matter.  Unless a prior agreement says otherwise, you'll only own the content that you have created.  Many a designer will retain ownership of their design, effectively licencing you to use it for your site.  Some designers will transfer ownership to you when you have paid them for their work.  This too depends onthe designer and what was in your contract. 

 

Copyright stays with the creator of the work

 

By default, copyright stays with the creator of the work, be it images, design, programming or content.  This can be over-ridden by clauses in a contract.  Similarly, some developers use open source systems which are covered by various forms of creative commons style licencing.  This means that neither you nor they have exclusive ownership of the system per se, but the developer can't stop you doing what you will with it.  However, some developers will produce their own, proprietary code and like the designers, retain ownership and licence it to you.  This could prove a complication.  It would then not be a matter of ownership but of terms of the licence.

 

Other tricky issues

 

On a simpler level, your contract may simply tie you into an agreement with your host for a set amount of time, and if you leave they can claim breach of contract.   Equally, finding a new developer to work with the legacy of someone else's work can sometimes be difficult.  That is going to depend hugely on the systems used for the existing site.

As you can see, there are myriad possibilities dependant on the agreements forged at time of development.  However, people move their web business all the time, so do not be disheartened.  Talk to your current hosts, preferably forearmed with knowledge of your existing agreements.  They may be quite helpful.  Many designers are perfectly happy to sign over copyright once they have been paid.

This article explains it all quite nicely:    http://www.digitalmousedesigns.com/websites-faq/who-owns-my-website