opinion

The "Collaborative Era" and Legal Ramifications

Corey Silverstein

Most individuals who have been working in the online adult industry marketplace during the past 10 years agree that making money and being successful has gotten more difficult and costly.  Many of those individuals have spent a lot of time attempting to place blame on the change in the marketplace and not enough time working on either changing their aging business models or creating new products and services.  On the other hand, many individuals have moved past older business models and looking for people to blame and have engineered new products, new business models and have continued to be successful in the online adult industry.

As part of reinventing and renovating themselves, more than ever, individuals and businesses have been collaborating and sharing resources in order to provide consumers with products and services that could not have been offered without the collaborative effort.  In fact, many of the collaborating parties used to consider each other competitors and would have never dreamed of working together.  These collaborative efforts have led to the creation of new products and services that share content, URL's, traffic, and advertising.

It is very important for collaborating parties to not neglect considering the legal ramifications of collaborations.  For example, many parties have been sharing content, whereby a content producer or content owner has been providing content to a website for purposes of marketing and/or inclusion in the website's paid subscription area.  In exchange for allowing (licensing) the content to the website operator, the website operator compensates the content producer or content owner via revenue share, pay per click etc.  In this example both parties need to consider the substantial legal issues that could arise including but not limited to, i) content licensing issues ii) payment issues, iii) content piracy, iv) and disputes between the parties.  In this instance (and all other types of collaborations), it is essential for the collaborating parties to reduce their agreement to a written contract.  The written contract will not only define the rights and obligations of the parties but it can (and should) also resolve how disputes shall be dealt with between the parties (if they ever arise).

The fact is, collaborative projects frequently terminate for numerous different reasons but the majority of collaborative disputes arise because one of the collaborative parties become disatisfied for financial reasons.  A solid written agreement between the parties will not only dictate how things will proceed during the good times but the written agreement will also control how things will proceed in the event of a dispute.  Being lazy or cheap is the wrong approach.  Stop with the verbal agreements and napkin notes that never get memorlized into a legally binding contract.  

One final point that I'd like to make is that my experience has taught me that family and close friends often make the worst collaboration partners and can result in the ugliest disputes.  Do not engage in a coloborative effort with family and close friends unless  you are prepared to lose that relationship.  Unless you are going to be prepared to lose the relationshp then walk away; money isn't everything.

It's very exciting to see how more people are realizing that the sharing of resources can often turn into an incredible product and I'm looking forward to the continued colloborative projects that result.  Just don't forget to make sure to cross all of your t's and dot all of your i's before proceeding.

Thanks for reading.                    

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