Burning Man was built on freedom of expression, and participants shouldn’t have to worry that photos or videos of their on-playa activities might appear online (or elsewhere) without their permission.
Going way back (pre-2000), Burning Man has requested that participants intending to record video on playa sign a Personal Use Agreement (PUA) to protect participants’ privacy in Black Rock City. In fact, it was this policy that allowed us to stop Voyeur Video from broadcasting illicit videos they’d recorded of unwitting Burning Man participants in 2002.
Burning Man’s photo policy is spelled out in the online terms and conditions applicable to all tickets: any participant is free to disseminate photos for personal use only, and cannot use them for any other purpose without the written permission of Burning Man. The PUA simply provides another mechanism to make participants aware of the limitations on photo use, and the distribution of the PUA at Playa Info also assists in this process.
Of course, technology is evolving quickly. Back when video cameras were big and bulky and rare, we asked that each be tagged so people could identify the person taking their picture. Flash forward to 2012, and now just about everybody has a video camera on their person in the form of a smart phone or handheld video camera — so while collecting PUAs has become more logistically challenging, protecting the privacy of our participants is more important than ever. (more…)