Who owns a company blog created on a public blogging site?

This sounds like an open and shut case, but upon further review, it’s not so clear.  Or is it?  Let me give you some background information.  Company XYZ hires a Web Designer (John Doe) and as part of his responsibility, was to create and update a company blog.  John Doe creates Company XYZ blog using WordPress.com and the company website links into this blog.  Creates it using his name as the username, provides a password, provides his personal email address.  John Doe starts blogging for several months.  Some of the blog entries are his own opinions, others are on topics that his company has asked him to blog about.  Company XYZ business starts to slow down, so layoffs are inevitable and low and behold, John Doe doesn’t make the cut.  The union between the two is amicable, but two weeks later Company XYZ notices that several blog entries from the previous months have been deleted, and John Doe has decided to change his password to the blog site.  Company XYZ is irate and contacts John Doe, and John Doe gives them the single finger salute.

So who owns this blog?  Initially I thought, Company XYZ because they pay John Doe a salary to create and update the blog.  Then I looked up the definition of what a blog is and suddenly it’s not so clear since John Doe has contributed some of his own topics and his own opinions on this public blog site which he has created using his own name.

So who owns this blog? I’d be interested in your thoughts on this and what the best way is to resolve and prevent this type of scenario from occurring again. For now, Company XYZ is currently going to seek legal counsel, and John Doe has moved on to other endeavors.

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