|Frequently Asked Questions
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There are many different niches in the adult Internet arena and each carries its own issues. The variations can be so extreme that we contemplated forgoing this page because it is difficult to know where to begin. Being lawyers, however, we never pass up a chance to talk endlessly or, in this case, peck away madly at the keyboard. With that in mind, following are a number of questions we receive frequently.
Q: What does "obscene" mean and is there any way I can protect myself?
A: The term "obscene" is hard to nail down for a variety of reasons. Initially, whether sexual imagery is considered to be obscene can only be determined by applying the local community standard for the location in which the images are viewed. If someone located in San Francisco looks at your images, there is less chance of any complaints being made to the authorities. Unfortunately, the same images may be considered obscene in Georgia. In short, there is simply a certain element of risk involved in this industry. Whatever you do, however, stay away from beastiality, child pornography [under age 18], and rape fantasy.
Q: Should I open free or membership sites if I am just starting out?
A: There is no "legal" answer to this question. Our experience, however, has led us to the opinion that it is best to start cheaply. One option is to put together a small free site promoting various affiliate programs and submit it to an age verification site [AVS]. By taking this path, you can avoid significant outlays of your money while you gain practical experience in the field. You can also play around with creating and submitting thumbnail posting pages, but you should note that the traffic you will get from these pages would convert at a very low rate. If you have a very particular niche that you are promoting, however, it is often best to go directly to a pay site so that you gain the advantage of the "new idea".
Q: Is all bulk e-mail considered to be spam and are there laws against it?
A: No. If a person has given you permission to send them information by opting-in to a service or site you are providing, then this is not spam. For instance, we have a newsletter for AdultInternetLaw.com. We can mail in bulk to those who elect to receive it because we have their permission. Harvesting emails from newsgroups, etc., and then sending out unsolicited emails is generally considered spamming. Currently, approximately 18 states have laws against doing such unsolicited mailings, but there is no federal law on the subject as of April of 2002. The laws of each of those states allow bulk mailing, but it must be done in a particular way.
Q: If you [AIL attorney] were getting into the business, what area would you pick?
A: Again, there is no legal answer to this question and each of us disagree as to the best option. Generally, we feel that a highly defined niche membership site or a content production company would be the best way to enter the industry. On the other hand, you can make money in any part of the industry if you apply yourself.
Q: Can I trust what people say on the boards of such and such site?
A: We are often amazed that people will abandon their common sense when they undertake an Internet effort. As with any industry, there are good and bad apples who contribute to the boards of any particular resource site. It is best to look at the overall discussion going on and then draw your own conclusions. Alternatively, YNOTBob at YNOTBob.com is generally an excellent source for information and is very helpful. Unlike our firm, Bob doesn't charge you an hourly fee!
Q: Should I go offshore to get extra protection?
A: As of April of 2002, our opinion is "No." The cost of going offshore is simply too expensive for most adult businesses. More importantly, the offshore industry is in a major state of upheaval and we cannot confidently recommend any jurisdiction as being stable at this time. We expect this situation to resolve itself by the end of 2002, at which time we intend to publish articles on possible strategies.
Q: Should I go to the trade shows or is it a waste of money?
A: If you are new to the industry, we strongly suggest that you attend at least one trade show in your first year. The wealth of information is amazing, particularly since people are there for the express purpose of networking. Unlike most industries, the participants in the adult Internet business will openly discuss technical, marketing and other issues you may have. If you are honest with them, they will often provide you with more information then you could ever receive in another industry. The various parties are also entertaining, but make sure you do not miss the next day of the show due to "excessive networking".
Q: Can I still make money in the adult industry?
A: Absolutely. Sex has, does and will always sell. As with any business, however, you have to be smart. You cannot put up just any site and wait for the money to roll in. Before wasting your money, take the time to learn as much as you can about the industry by reviewing resource sites such as YNOTmasters.com. By taking the time to research the industry, you will avoid the typical pitfalls that occur and gain a realistic view of the industry and the profits that can be made. Obviously, you have already begun your research by looking at our site.
Q: Should I buy a turnkey site?
A: At the risk of being fire bombed by various providers, we do not believe turnkey sites are generally
going to result in a profitable business. There are so many adult sites on the net that you really need to focus on a niche within a niche. By definition, turnkey sites will have a similar design and content to other sites on the net. If you accept this assertion, what will make a surfer join your turnkey site versus any other? When you find a good answer to this question, please let us know.
Q: Why do I need a contract?
A: Regardless of which attorney you talk with in this industry, you will always be told that you need a contract if you do business with another party. The reason for this is that oral agreements carry little weight in the courtroom. You say the other party promised this and they deny it. In short, the dispute turns into a liar's contest. How often does a Webmaster feel he has been ripped off? We get at least two inquiries a week that involve an oral agreement that cannot be enforced. You will save yourself a lot of aggravation by simply doing things right from the beginning. Remember, every industry has scam artists.
Q: If I pay a model to perform for a content shoot, is it prostitution?
A: You will not be prosecuted for prostitution if you shoot an adult film. The courts have recognized that these performances are not undertaken as forms of prostitution. That being said, you should make sure the models sign written model releases and provide proof of identification. Most prosecutions in this industry are based on the use of underage models and issues of obscenity.
Q: What does AdultInternetLaw.com mean when it says it will provide a free networking opportunity with other clients?
A: When you become a client of AdultInternetLaw.com, we will put you in contact with those of our other clients that have expressed an interest in your business subject matter. For instance, if you are shooting gay content, we may have a client that is interested in purchasing content. Importantly, we only provide a networking opportunity. The rest is up to you.
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