There is often a grey area surrounding computer programming as to who owns the rights to any intellectual property involved. Before you enter into any Web development project, make sure you and the Web developer are very clear about the rights surrounding the project.
Some programming is provided with a limited single-use licence, since the code itself is owned by the programmers or the company the programmer works for. Some programming may be owned by you, if you enter into the development under that arrangement – that you will have complete ownership and full rights to the code and any intellectual property.
Sometimes it becomes a legal and ethical minefield, because, while you may own the rights to the business process you are asking a programmer to develop, you may still not own their code. This makes it very difficult if you want to take your business elsewhere.
Don't forget also that any Website or computer application depends on a whole range of third party software to run, such as server software, operating system, security software, firewalls and many other products. Almost always your application will be dependent on all these tools to operate and you will be leasing, sub-leasing them or perhaps taking advantage of open source products. Either way, you will not be in full control nor have full ownership of the entire ecosystem of products and services that you will be depending on. Much like you might own a car but depend on roads, traffic lights and street signs to get around, owning or using a computer program puts you inside a much larger infrastructure that you can't always control, much as you would like to think you can.
In all matters of this nature, we recommend consulting a lawyer before taking any action. As part of our digital media and technical consulting process, we can provide you with the range of considerations you need to be aware of.
Internet copyright law is still very much an evolving topic, so it is very helpful to have an experienced company working with you to highlight any issues that could potentially arise.