Can I use website files from a company that I don’t work for anymore?

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Can I use website files from a company that I don’t work for anymore?

I used to work for a small web design and hosting company as the webmaster. I quit after the company was sold and I stopped being paid. The company is now going out of business and some of the clients have contacted me about hosting their website myself. They company has not released any of the websites files to the clients (because they don’t know how), but I have all of the files from when I worked there. Can I use those files and put the clients website back up? or do the files belong to the company?

Asked on February 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I would strongly suggest that you seek consultation from an attorney in your area as soon as you can and that you err on the side of waiting to do anything until you look at this matter from all the angles.  First, did you have an employment contract with your old employer and did it have a non-compete clause in the agreement?  Also, what does the contract between your old employer and their old clients say?  Who owns the website and the files?  Their contracts should address this matter.  It sounds like you have the potential to start your own independent business and make some money here.  Do not tie it all up in litigation.  Good luck.


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