opinion

Legal and Business Safety for Creators at Trade Shows

Legal and Business Safety for Creators at Trade Shows

As I write this, I am preparing to attend XBIZ Miami, which reminds me of attending my first trade show 20 years ago. Since then, I have met thousands of people from all over the world who were doing business — or seeking to do business — in the adult industry. Trade shows remain one of the best ways to meet and network with people who share business goals similar to your own. However, it is important to remember that not everyone who attends trade shows has your best interests at heart.

Don't get me wrong! Most of the folks at shows like XBIZ Miami are wonderful and reliable creators and businesspeople. Unfortunately, you will also occasionally run into people who are primarily motivated by their own selfish goals, and who will behave in unscrupulous ways to achieve them. Adult creators and performers in particular must constantly be on guard against people who may have malicious intentions or try to take advantage of their success.

Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for someone to present you with a contract to execute after an initial meeting at a trade show.

Here are some rules to keep in mind, to make sure your safety comes first.

Know Whom You Are Dealing With

Some individuals may engage in unethical or dishonest practices, such as making false promises, misleading representations or bribery. Maintain a discerning eye and avoid entering into agreements or partnerships without conducting due diligence on the credibility and integrity of the other party. New faces are common at trade shows, but while it is important to meet new people, do not automatically trust anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, such as whom a new person has worked with, and follow up to seek verification. Also, the internet is an amazing thing! Don’t hesitate to use Google, social media and various other online tools to vet people you meet.

Maintain Awareness and Set Boundaries

In this article we are mainly discussing safety from a business perspective, but personal safety is also paramount — and can sometimes be overlooked amid the hustle and bustle of a trade show. Meeting new people in unfamiliar settings can expose you to various risks, including harassment or assault. It is important to stay aware of your surroundings, avoid isolated or poorly lit areas, and trust your instincts if a situation feels uncomfortable or potentially hazardous. Establishing clear boundaries and assertively communicating them can also help deter intrusive behavior or unwanted advances.

Surround Yourself With Reputable Folks

The individuals with whom you associate at trade shows can reflect on your own professional reputation. Engaging with individuals or organizations known for unethical conduct, illegal activities or dubious affiliations, even unintentionally, can damage your credibility and the trust people place in you within your industry network. Upholding ethical standards and integrity in business dealings is crucial to preserving your reputation and avoiding entanglement in illicit activities. Exercise the utmost discretion in choosing whom to engage with.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft and Hacking

Adult content creators are especially susceptible to identity theft and social media hacking. Do not share your personal information with anyone with whom you have not yet established trust. The business contact information that you share should not be your personal contact information. Never share the email address that you utilize as your login for sites and platforms. Utilize services such as WhatsApp and Telegram to stay in touch with new people, instead of your personal cellphone number. If you have a stage name, stick to it. Do not share your legal name, your birthdate — or even your pet’s name. That may sound silly at first, but think about your password recovery questions and you’ll quickly realize the threat.

Do Not Sign Anything

Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for someone to present you with a contract to execute after an initial meeting at a trade show. Do not sign anything presented to you at a trade show, ever. It’s easy to get excited about a prospective new business relationship, but that eagerness — like finding that sexy new sports car you’ve always wanted — makes this the most dangerous time when dealing with new professional contacts. Never sign a contract in the heat of the moment, or without having it reviewed by a lawyer who works in the adult industry.

Do Not Give or Take Any Money

Someone out there always seems to have the next great idea or invention, and needs your cash to make it happen. There is nothing wrong with pursuing investment opportunities, but do so only after conducting due diligence to make sure everything checks out. Also, be wary of anyone who tries to give you money to buy your trust or get you to agree to something. Not all types of contracts need to be in writing to be enforceable, and I have seen lawsuits involving the exchange of money when at least one party had little to no idea what the exchange was for.

Of course, it's not just creators who need to be cautious. Here are some additional tips that apply to other industry folks attending trade shows:

Be Mindful of What You Say

Trade shows attract a diverse array of attendees, often including competitors and disgruntled customers. Sharing sensitive business information or personal details with strangers can inadvertently compromise your security, or the security of your company. Tactics such as phishing or gathering intelligence for corporate espionage are not unheard of. To safeguard your interests, exercise caution and discretion when divulging information.

Exchange Ideas, Not Business Secrets

Discussions at trade shows often revolve around innovative products, cutting-edge technologies and proprietary processes. While exchanging ideas and insights can be beneficial, be wary of individuals who may seek to exploit or steal intellectual property. Revealing too much about your company’s intellectual assets could result in plagiarism, patent infringement or unauthorized replication of your innovations. Confidentiality and selective disclosure are essential to minimize the risk of intellectual property theft.

The purpose of this article is not to scare you into avoiding people. Quite the opposite. You should make the most out of the trade shows you attend, by meeting new people and networking as much as possible. The point here is just to make sure that you do so in a responsible manner that will keep you and your business safe.

This article does not constitute legal advice. It is provided for information purposes only and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with legal advisors in your own jurisdiction. It may not be current as the laws in this area change frequently. Transmission of the information contained in this article is not intended to create, nor does its receipt constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver.

Corey D. Silverstein is the managing and founding member of Silverstein Legal. His practice focuses on representing all areas of the adult industry and his clientele includes hosting companies, affiliate programs, content producers, processors, designers, developers, operators and more. He is licensed in numerous jurisdictions including Michigan, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia and New York. Contact him at MyAdultAttorney.com, corey@myadultattorney.com and 248-290-0655.

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