[This post is part of our ongoing Digital Rights blog series.]
January 19th is the big day — tickets go on sale for Burning Man 2011, Rites of Passage!
As you take your place in the electronic queue and wait your turn to click for your ticket to paradise, we invite you to pay special attention to something you might otherwise not notice: Burning Man, after spending much of 2010 working with volunteers from Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has updated our Terms and Conditions relating to the use of cameras at the event.
The Terms and Conditions is the standard ration of legal language that governs the agreement between you and event organizers when you use your ticket to Burning Man. The language about image use was the subject of much discussion back in 2009, when the EFF first took Burning Man to task over the language restricting image use contained in the T&C. (If you haven’t yet seen our original response to that blog post, it’s worth reading too.) The EFF – and you – talked, and since we already knew that the time for evolution had come, we listened.
In our subsequent meetings with photographers, filmmakers, participants, the EFF and Creative Commons, and other interested minds, it became clear that the time was ripe to update the Terms and Conditions — not only to update existing policies regarding the personal use of imagery online (specifically accommodating uses like Facebook, photo sharing apps, and the like) but to actually make the language more “human readable” and better describe why Burning Man is such an unusual zone for photography in the first place.
We were called upon to be more specific about our use of copyright law, to explain more clearly why our community is so invested in controlling image use at Burning Man, and to give participants more information on what to expect: what kinds of things we pursue and enforce against, how we enact copyright controls over unauthorized uses, and what you can do with your own personal images.
We were also crucially tasked to limit ourselves (or perhaps more importantly, future Burning Man assignees or successors down the line) to using copyright to enforce unwanted publications, and to specifically state that we won’t use that control to gain from anyone’s images commercially. All these good suggestions were woven into the update to the T&C that is excerpted below.
Some of these changes are significant. For the first time, Burning Man accepts the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike as a licensing option for images and video from the event, so long as they do not contain nudity. Other updates are more nuanced – many of the adjustments and additions are just about making the policies simpler to understand.
Below, we’ve copied the relevant text you’ll see when you buy your ticket, and italicized/highlighted what’s new or updated for 2011. Whether you carry a camera in Black Rock City or not, these policies and practices affect all participants — we hope the work that’s gone into the updates helps create better understanding for all denizens of BRC, and a clearer and saner platform for for participants whose “radical self-expression” is conducted with a camera.
Use of Images
Burning Man’s explanation regarding its policy on photographs and videos: Cameras are welcomed at Burning Man, where they have long been an important part of Black Rock City’s storytelling history. We have worked to encourage the sharing of our community’s identity and cultural information through photography, videography, and film. We also seek to protect that selfsame culture from unchecked commercialization or commodification, and to moderate an environment where participants’ rights to privacy, free expression, and creative immediacy are given additional consideration by our community. Entrance to the event requires acceptance of certain terms and conditions for the use of photographic imagery, whether still or video. You are asked to identify whether you will use your images for personal use or a public distribution, and to adhere to certain guidelines thereof. These guidelines and agreements are aimed at protecting Black Rock City’s inhabitants and its cultural values; they may seem unusual at first glance, but our goal is to preserve the principle of decommodification within the Burning Man event, and to encourage and observe respect for personal privacy and freedom of expression. We primarily monitor dissemination of photographs to ensure that photographs from Burning Man are not used for advertising or commercial purposes, and that they do not infringe on participants’ rights to privacy.
I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT NO USE OF IMAGES, FILM, OR VIDEO OBTAINED AT THE EVENT MAY BE MADE WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM BURNING MAN, OTHER THAN PERSONAL USE. I understand that I have no rights to make any non-personal use of any image, film, or video footage obtained at the event, and that I cannot sell, transfer, or give the footage or completed film or video to any other party, except for personal use, and I agree to inform anyone to whom I give any footage, film, or video that it can only be used for personal use. Use in any advertisement of images from Burning Man, or of drawings or representations of the Burning Man sculpture, or of the phrase “Burning Man” in any advertisement or in the title of any publication designed for dissemination to the public (other than blog posts), is prohibited without prior written consent of Burning Man.
“Personal use” of images, film or video means to share with friends and family, to display on personal websites (as long as your website does not sell any other product or service, and as long as your website does not purport or appear to be an official website of Burning Man or Black Rock City LLC), to display on photosharing websites, and to display at art exhibits or similar exhibits. Social networking sites such as Flickr and Facebook are deemed “personal use” only if the display of the images, film or video on these sites are not used for the promotion or distribution of images with the intent to publicly display them beyond one’s immediate network, and if one’s immediate network is not inordinately large.
I further assign to Burning Man a joint ownership in the copyright for images obtained at the event so that in the event any third party displays or disseminates any of my images in a manner not authorized by this agreement, Burning Man can enforce against the third party any restrictions concerning use of the images, and I appoint Burning Man as my attorney-in-fact to execute any documents necessary to effectuate such assignment. Burning Man agrees that it will not utilize this joint ownership to enter into any licensing agreements for the images.
6. I agree, in the event I post, or allow to be posted, any images (still or video) on a personal website or a website controlled by a third party, that: (1) I will place, or cause to be placed, on any website in which such images are displayed, a notice that the images can be used only for the poster’s personal use and not for any other purpose and that downloading or copying of the images is prohibited, except in accordance with the Creative Commons’s by-nc-sa license where the licensee agrees to use the image for non-commercial purposes and only for his or her personal use (as defined herein) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/); and (2) in the event Burning Man notifies me that any such images must be removed, for any reason whatsoever in Burning Man’s sole discretion, I will promptly remove or cause to be removed those images.
Burning Man’s statements regarding use of images:
Burning Man forbids the making of private profit from the documentation of nudity at the event when images are presented in a sexual context, and/or without the express written permission of subjects. If you have seen a violation or suspect a problem of this nature, please contact the Rangers and/or Media Mecca (on playa) or email ip here: ip (at) Burningman.com (year-round).
Burning Man requires written contracts with all parties interested in making a commercial enterprise out of their documentation of the event or distributing footage beyond personal friend/family networks. Visit http://www.burningman.com/press for more information on how to register for this permission. Such projects require Burning Man’s review prior to commercial distribution.
7. I acknowledge that the Burning Man name and logo are the property of the Burning Man organization, and I understand that the Burning Man organization controls all rights regarding the licensing and reproduction of any imagery recorded at the event. I agree that I will not use the mark or logo of Burning Man or likeness of the Man on any website (except for personal use, as described in Paragraph 5) or in any commercial manner, except for nominative or classic fair use. (For information about trademarks, copyright and fair use, please see: http://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Trademark:_General and http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/copyrightforlibrarians/Main_Page)
8. I acknowledge that people are using film, video and photographic cameras at the event, and that my image may be captured on film, video or photographs which may subsequently be displayed or disseminated without my consent or payment of compensation to me, and I release Burning Man from any liability due to such filming, photographing or dissemination.
9. I hereby appoint Burning Man as my representative to protect my intellectual property or privacy rights, recognizing that Burning Man has no obligation to take any such action. I understand that, in the event Burning Man files a lawsuit to takes action to protect my intellectual property or privacy rights pursuant to the appointment in this paragraph, and Burning Man has information that my specific intellectual property or privacy rights have been violated and also has information as to my identity and my contact information, Burning Man will make reasonable efforts to notify me of any such action by sending a communication to the contact information in Burning Man’s possession.
You can also visit and read the full text of the Terms and Conditions. We hope our readers (photographers, and everyone else!) will share your thoughts!