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Burning Man Responds To EFF's Criticism of Policy 210

Briden writes "Earlier this week, we discussed the EFF's criticism of the Burning Man Photo Policy. Burning Man has now responded at length on their own blog. Here's an excerpt: '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. We don't remove images from pages just because they criticize us (I've never been involved in taking down an image from an editorial blog criticizing Burning Man, and it's certainly not because there haven't been any!). We're also not at all interested [in] preventing participants from sharing their personal imagery or impressions of the event on third party sharing sites in a noncommercial manner, so long as they observe the concerns about privacy and commercialism. We're delighted to see people sharing videos, stories, and pictures on our official Facebook page, and we know that it, along with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. are representative of the way many of us share personal imagery in the digital age.'"
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Burning Man Responds To EFF's Criticism of Policy

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  • Re:Public Event (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @08:52AM (#29075507)

    Somebody said they leased the area the festival is on, so it wouldn't be public space but private space.

    I don't care enough to verify that, though ;)

  • How I read it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AFresh1 ( 1585149 ) <> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:26AM (#29075623) Homepage
    What I got from reading TFA was that Burning Man's lawer (who used to be head lawer at the EFF) has found this to be the most reasonable way to accomplish their goals. They looked at many other ways, but the choices they have are limited by the law. They continue to have discussions on how to not take too much away, but their lawers haven't figured it out yet.
    More transparency would be nice. This blog post was a good start, although something formal describing what they are attempting and why they chose the option they did would be even better IMO.
  • Re:The real reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:49AM (#29075705)

    It doesn't seem to be working too well []

    Nor would you expect it too quite frankly.

  • privacy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr_Ken ( 1163339 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @10:04AM (#29075767) Journal
    If privacy is so important why parade around nude or in outlandish costumes then? Every social phenomenon seems to morph from spontaneous fun to organized event to incorporated enterprise. Didn't BM start out as just one guy burning a large scale wooden stick figure that he built himself along the beach in California? Now look at it. Note to social engineers: You can't organize and control anarchy or direct spontaneity.
  • Re:Public Event (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fooslacker ( 961470 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @10:59AM (#29075989)

    The first time I heard about the Burning Man, they were saying everywhere "come at your own risk ! We don't provide water or health services ! If you want to be safe, either bring an hospital or stay home !" At the beginning, it was supposed that there were no spectators, only participants. They sounded like they would be ready to leave you dead on the sand. Now what ? They want to protect the privacy ? What kind of sissy participant is unable to come unrecognizable if s/he does not wish to be ?

    It's not about privacy. Burning Man is no longer what you described. It's now a corporate money machine and like all things that explode with success the raiders descend and now they try to control the environment so that the golden goose continues to lay eggs for as long as possible. Their goal is to no longer have Burning Man grow but instead to have it generate a low risk income for as long as possible before their suffocating grip slowly kills it. This is not new by any means, companies behave in the same way in any industry.

    Entrepreneur begets, risky business, begets client base, begets minor success, begets corporate buyout/rapid growth, begets a need to ensure future profits, begets restrictions on customer base, begets slow decline begets litigation, begets bankruptcy begets another cycle.

  • Re:Ah privacy ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:24AM (#29076111)

    I have been going to burningman a long time. While I disagree with the heavy-handed rule, but you also have to understand the community and how it developed. Back in the day where the BLM and the state did not force their regulations on Burningman (which is why the tickets, etc are now required), cameras were basically banned. You did not take pictures of other people or their stuff without their permission, and even that was rare. If you did it would be the equivalent of going into a biker bar and spitting on someone, i.e. it likely would not be pretty. Now that the event is fairly well known, about half of the population are first timers every year. Cameras are still not allowed without registration, and then you're still supposed to ask permission to take pictures of individuals. With nearly 50,000 people, this is obviously unenforceable and the population doesn't care as much as when it was a tighter community and it was enforceable.

    The Burningman Organization is owned by 5 people who are credited with making the event what it is (some arguments about certain people who think they should control a piece). One of their key rules is no commerce. That means no advertising, no money, no selling. When you're at the event, everything is free and no one is trying to pitch their business to you. That really changes the way people interact. Think of how you'd react to someone at your door if you know they weren't trying to pitch their religion or a home security device, but probably giving you a free pizza or icecream on a hot day.

    The burningman organizations role in enforcing this is two-fold. Protecting people who do not want pictures of them naked running through the desert publicly posted, and to keep people from using photographs of other people or their work used to make money. I don't like the wording they use, and I don't trust them 100% but I understand why the rule is in place and I trust them enough that I'd rather have it there than completely eliminated, but I'm also one of those people in favor of the "no cameras at Burningman in the first place" rule. So that is why the community has support for a crappy clause.

  • Re:There's tickets? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Distan ( 122159 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:29AM (#29076139)

    I'm not going to correct all the errors in your post, but the key error is falling into the "we need permits" trap that the Burning Man organizers have set up for you.

    Anybody can camp on BLM land. No permit required. In the early years, we all used the "spontaneous gathering" excuse (the same as rainbow gatherings still use today). If a group has no leader, there is nobody for the government to demand a permit from. If 20,000 people spontaneously all decide to individually camp at the same place at the same time, no permits are required because the gathering is not organizing.

    By setting themselves up as the "leaders", Larry Harvey and company were able to exert further control over an event that was originally all about spontaneity and lack of control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:31AM (#29076153)

    I believe people ar missing a valuable opportunity to address the matter of legal protection for photography. I do know there are some extensive protections in place for the photographer but I am unaware of comprehensive coverage for the subject or creator of a subject matter that is photographed. It would be ridiculous to have to place NDAs or EULAs on our persons or art works but while art galleries do have some additional legal protections in place, public events may not.

    One last note, burning man is actually a private event which happens to be permitted to occur on public land. I would recommend reading articles and background materials before starting a flame war!

  • Just trust us... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:50AM (#29076277) Homepage

    Concise version: Just trust us. We'll only use the power wisely.

  • Re:Public Event (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:59AM (#29076327)

    The land is public for roughly 50 weeks of the year. Durning Burning Man, the BLM permit makes the area of Black Rock City and a 2 mile perimeter private. I believe the permits are public record, feel free to file a FOIA request and read them before you start talking out of your ass.

    When farmers lease BLM land for their cattle, do you think they are not allowed to turn away trespassers?

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @12:59PM (#29076667) []

    "(a) A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent."

    SCO has been trying to get around this since 2003. The APA contains no such language that the Unix copyrights were ever transfered to SCO from Novell, much to SCO's dismay.

    An EULA is not a contract. It is not a conveyance of copyright signed by the ticket holder/owner of the photographs. The BMO cannot own your photographs simply because you bought a ticket. The BMO (not me) is making nice, because I think someone told them they don't have a leg to stand on.


  • Go to burning man.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by leptons ( 891340 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:11PM (#29076755)
    ...or shut the hell up, because you really have no clue what you are talking about. Most of these posts sound incredibly misinformed. I've been to burning man 10 times since '96 and I'm happy BMO has taken steps to limit the use of the event by unscrupulous people who wish to profit from exploiting people at the event who are trying to experience just a bit more freedom than is welcome outside of burning man. I've seen outrageous and awesome things at BM, and to exploit those things for profit would be to prevent unique and wonderful situations from happening there in the future. People at burning man can and do express themselves in ways not possible outside of burning man, and to record video and sell it as a 'girls gone wild' type product is just plain wrong. It has happened before, and this is what prompted BMO to take action in this way. I can say with full confidence that BMO is only trying to protect itself and the citizens of black rock city from this type of exploitation.
  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:30PM (#29076883) Homepage

    Apparently you've never been to other parts of the world. They can do it in parts of Canada. No one gives a shit, and that's in a "public" space. Personally this reeks of money grab but what do I know I'm already in my 30's, and simply don't care anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:31PM (#29076893)

    It is clear you are not qualified to comment. If the BM organizers were trying to cash in on the event they would sell TShirts like concerts (they don't), they would allow vendors to sell food (they don't), they would charge premiums for better placement of campsites (they don't). If they were trying to cash in on the event you would see a store on the sight selling officially licensed Burning Man gear (you don't). They don't even sell water at the event. If the organizers are positioning themselves to cash in on the event, then they are doing so in a very inefficient way.

  • You Are Clueless (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:35PM (#29076917) Homepage

    Wow, it amazes me how many comments start or end with "I don't go to Burning Man, but I know how that community should work." No, you don't. You don't have any idea what Burning Man is.

    People keep saying it's a public event in a public space. No, it is not. It is a private event on leased land.

    People keep saying these are their photographs in question. No, for the most part they are not. When you take a picture of a non-public figure on private property without consent where the subject matter is primarily that person, you do not have full exclusive rights to that photograph -- it is not "yours" in the legal or moral sense. When you take a picture where the subject is primarily someone else's work of art, particularly on private property, you do not have full exclusive rights to that photograph -- it is not "yours" in the legal or moral sense. When TIVO misappropriated the Linux kernel, where were all you screaming, "This is TIVO's software!" No, it wasn't.

    People keep saying they've never been, but they think it sucks now and used to be better. WTF?!? What would you say to someone who said, "I've never read Slashdot, but it's just a bunch of teenagers talking about Miley Cyrus, so it sucks."

    Nearly fifty thousand people will haul everything it takes to survive for a week in one of the most barren and hostile environments on the planet in two weeks. You don't know shit about why we do it, and what we have to attempt to make it work. The United States legal and cultural systems are completely fucked and make it incredibly hard for Burning Man to work. Yet we still try, and we get pretty goddamned close to what we are trying to achieve. So until you've been there, until you've been through a four hour dust storm, watched it destroy half your camp, and come out smiling because that dust storm means you are home (and your in-camp DJs didn't drop the beat the whole time) -- you don't know what you are talking about.

  • by Hojima ( 1228978 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:10PM (#29077693)

    I personally know people who have gone to the BM and they have no complaints over this. A friend of mine said she like the ability to paint her body and walk around in the nude without her dad seeing her in a Girls Gone Wild video. The burning man really is incredibly lenient about the amount of control they exert, but when you go in to blatantly exploit the population at their expense, you've crossed the line. The burning man is actually not about profit, and the 300$ that everyone whines about is nothing to the people that enjoy going there. They even see a percentage of it go back to them, because don't think there aren't any employees to ensure a good time, or activities that they provide (and who cares if they profit a bit). And if you take a look at they're office staff through google, you'll see they're not the suits you might expect them to be.

  • Re:It sucks anyway (Score:3, Interesting)

    by H310iSe ( 249662 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:39PM (#29078347)

    it doesn't suck (going again this year) BUT you're right, there is symbiosis on Sept... 17th? from at least a music pov it should be *at least* as good, possibly better

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears