If you are a freelance web developer or running a startup business which creates web pages, the first thing you should do, if you haven’t done so already, is to incorporate your business. You should engage a legal professional to do this for you because an attorney is in the best position to advise you as to the best corporate structure that will suit your legal needs and desired growth of the company.
You mentioned contracts. If you are running a web development business, there are probably a number of contracts or agreements you will be using on a regular basis such as nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) which protect your company’s confidential work product and intellectual property; client engagement agreements; and contracts for any employees or consultants performing work or providing services for your company. Again, it is worthwhile to consult a legal professional so he can draft detailed agreements tailored to your specific situation. Using form contracts you find on the internet are usually a bad idea because they are generic and may not cover all legal issues applicable to your business. Other contracts that could be useful to you, depending on the circumstances, include an IP assignment agreement, licensing agreement, and affiliate agreement.
As for the content of the websites you create, you will need to be aware of any copyrights that may exist and secure licenses for any copyrighted material you use. For original content you create, you will want to secure the copyrights for that material as well. Sometimes, depending on your agreement with your clients, you may be transferring certain copyrights and other ownership rights to your clients. As far as creating web pages that include user-generated content, you will also need to be sure you are compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). (more on the DMCA here)
So, as you can see, the answer to your question is complex. But, don’t sweat it; we got you covered.