Posts for category Digital Rights


July 12th, 2010  |  Filed under Digital Rights

Welcome to Digital Rights: Debates in the Dust

[Rosalie Fay Barnes is a consultant for the Burning Man Project, facilitating the review of current media documentation and legal policies. She also consults with Black Rock Solar, helping to develop k-12 educational materials around climate change, environmental law, and disaster responses. Rosalie earned a double Masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education focusing on technology and cognitive development, where she worked extensively with Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, a digital rights think tank. To contact her and/or to inquire about blogging for the Digital Rights Series, email cameratales here: cameratales (at) burningman.com.]

The Media Takes Aim at Larry Harvey, 1998

The Media Takes Aim at Larry Harvey, 1998

As you may have read in the blogosphere, the Burning Man Project has been undergoing a review of legal terms related to media documentation at the event (for media references, see the link list below). And while the goal of this effort is to determine the specific legal language on the ticket and Burning Man’s Terms and Conditions, it’s really about accurately reflecting the culture and community of the Burning Man event.

Should certain on-playa activities (such as the Critical Tits Ride, for instance) be camera-free events? Should photographers be able to make a profit by selling their Burning Man photographs? If so, how much? What framework best facilitates every participant’s right to enjoy “radical self-expression” on playa in this regard? These questions are just the start of the conversation, and it’s certainly true we’ve seen quite a diversity of impassioned opinions being expressed around this highly complex, nuanced issue. (And it’s no wonder: one needn’t extrapolate too far to see how these considerations have resonance in the real world, as the dynamics of digital media are evolving quickly with advancements in technology, cyberlaw, and socio-cultural norms.)

Browsing the Free Photography Zone Gallery

Browsing the Free Photography Zone Gallery, 2006

Over the coming months, we will continue to dialogue with photographers, theme camps, artists, interested participant groups, Creative Commons and the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) in order to improve our policies for the present and for the future. We will be talking (if not facilitating public discussions) about this process at the Burning Man event, at the Open Video Conference in New York City (Oct 1-2, 2010), and other locations to be announced.

At the same time, we want to engage in an ongoing public dialog — a Debate in the Dust, if you will — through this blog series, featuring a diversity of representative voices sharing their perspectives on various aspects of this multifaceted issue. It should be noted that the perspectives expressed in these posts don’t necessarily reflect those of the Burning Man Project. Instead, we intend this Digital Rights blog series to be an arena for a thoughtful discussion within our community and beyond. We invite all readers’ commentary, and request that comments be constructive in nature while adhering to our Comment Policy.  Thank you for contributing to the ongoing evolution of the Burning Man project!

Wired Article: Burning Man Rethinks Its Legal Ownership of Your Photos
Burning Blog Post in Response to EFF Critiques, by Andie Grace
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Tell Burning Man To Respect Your Digital Rights
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Snatching Rights on the Playa
Boing Boing Commentary
Burning Blog Post by John Curley

May 12th, 2010  |  Filed under Digital Rights

Cameras at Burning Man: Policies for the digital age

Burning Man is trying to  figure out how to respond to the revolution in digital photography.

Old timers will tell you that cameras weren’t much in evidence in the early years of the event. But now you can’t help but see cameras everywhere on the playa –  from cellphones and point-and-shoots to expensive and sophisticated digital recording equipment that produces everything from stunningly artistic imagery to high-res but low-rent voyeuristic crap.

And the places that those pictures wind up is changing, too. Burning Man has always said it was fine to share your pictures among your friends and family. But what are friends and family these days, when you might have 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, or thousands of visitors to your Flickr or YouTube sites?

What happens to the privacy rights of, say, a schoolteacher who enjoys the freedom and empowerment of the Critical Tits bike ride? Should she have to worry when she gets back from the desert that her picture will be easy to find on the internet?

Last week, the organization gathered photographers, videographers, artists, event leaders, legal experts, technologists and just plain good thinkers to explore the ramifications of the digital revolution. Are Burning Man’s policies and procedures still up to the task of protecting privacy, preventing commercialization while still  nurturing the creative image-making process?

The discussions were heartfelt, impassioned, informed and on the whole amazingly constructive.
Much more work remains to be done, and a team of people, including the communications department and legal team, are charged with turning the talk into action items.

Here is some of what was said, plus, if you’ll forgive the intrusion, a little of what I think:

Read more »

August 14th, 2009  |  Filed under Digital Rights

“Snatching Digital Rights” or Protecting Our Culture? Burning Man and the EFF

On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a criticism of Burning Man’s ongoing efforts to protect the rights of our participants, and our efforts to forestall the creep of commercialism into the foundations of our culture.

Image by brillig, 2008

Image by brillig, 2008

Burning Man deeply respects the efforts of the EFF, and frankly, would ourselves like to embrace their opinion – but we don’t think the issue is as simple as Corynne McSherry would have you believe. Just like the EFF, we honestly seek to think outside old paradigms and boxes of “creative property” in the digital age, but we view Black Rock City through a more complicated lens, and our view of issues facing creative ownership is not rendered in extremes of black and white. To us, the rights of the individual participant to privacy while in Black Rock City in this unique environment for free expression — and our philosophical desire to maintain it out of reach of those who would exploit that expression just to sell cars or soft drinks — happens to come first.

In fact, there are but two essential reasons we maintain these increased controls on behalf of our community: to protect our participants so that images that violate their privacy are not displayed, and to prevent companies from using Burning Man to sell products.
Read more »