Let's say a prior web developer placed a copyright notice on a website in the web developer's and not the client's name. The prior web developer has been hostile and actually took the site down for some months last year. Site gets put back up just prior to a court date where client and prior web developer are in dispute because of tenant/landlord relationship.
<u> tags, improved readability, SEO, accessibility, update-abilty.
There was (surprise!) no contract between prior web developer and client, just word of mouth. And until prior web developer was a bozo, was perfectly reasonable entity. Though apparently prior web developer refused to do any updates for several years.
Practically though, the design is unremarkable, a header, nav, and middle scrolling content window with images, and an empty footer.
So, now, the question (at last!): Does that copyright that the prior web developer put on the site mean anything legally? Assume it's archived in The Wayback Machine so anyone could see it if they look. Are there any other pitfalls in this situation the web developer should worry about? Any pitfalls for the client (beyond the standing bad blood)? Is it all such a mess already the practical step of moving and slightly-improving the site make the prior copyright a moot point?