Posts in Digital Rights

January 14th, 2011  |  Filed under Digital Rights

Updated Terms and Conditions for 2011

artistry meets artistry (image by Brad Hetland)

artistry meets artistry (image by Brad Hetland)

[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.

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July 13th, 2010  |  Filed under Digital Rights

Photography is My Gift to the Community

[Neil Girling, aka mr. Nightshade, is a photographer and blogger well-known for covering the San Francisco Bay Area underground. This post is part of the Digital Rights Blog Series.]

The Man Burns, 2009

The Man Burns, 2009

Six weeks hence will again see me covered in dust, in the middle of a desert wasteland and my largest project of the year, that thing we call Burning Man. It will be the sixth year I bring out a glittering array of sparkling glass and battered camera bodies, trying to somehow make the unimaginable scale of the event fit within a small viewfinder, compressing the four dimensions of time and space (leaving out sound entirely) into a measly two, and somehow still try to convey just what it is like — near sensory overload — within a few photographs.

In 2008, I posted a few photos during the week from the tenuous WIFI connection to my website; last year, I took this up a notch and posted photos each night of the event from their respective day. With a generator running, a laptop atop the pickup and photos of the Man burning trickling up to the web at 3AM — scant hours after his immolation, and while his embers smoldered still — I hastily packed my remaining belongings to escape the mad rush of Exodus, and my photos beat me to the rest of world.

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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

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.
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