Burning Man at Open Video Conference in October

Ever wonder what the small print on back of a Burning Man ticket really means to a photographer?  Want to understand why Burning Man has certain “Terms and Conditions” regulating media use?  Curious about how the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) recent criticisms have affected Burning Man’s policy on the use of images?   Want to learn more about this or share your opinion?  Join us for an ongoing public dialogue about digital rights at Burning Man and implications for wider society!

On Fri., Oct. 1, 2010 5:30-6:30 pm EDT, Burning Man IP Legal Counsel Terry Gross and Burning Man adviser Rosalie Barnes will have a panel discussion with EFF’s Corynne McSherry at the Open Video Conference.  The panel meets at the Auditorium of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), located at Seventh Avenue and W. 27th Street in New York City.

You’re invited to participate in-person or virtually!  Details about registering for in-person are here: http://www.openvideoconference.org/.

The session will be streamed live via the Internet on the main conference page via www.openvideoconference.org.  Folks watching online will be able to tweet questions to discussion moderator Katherine Chen using a hashtag.  For more info and online discussion about Burning Man’s digital rights policy, go here: http://blog.burningman.com/digitalrights/.

This is what OVC has on their site:

Summary: EFF v. Burning Man – (Friday, October 1 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM)

Description: Each year, Nevada’s Black Rock desert plays host to the Burning Man festival. Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to celebrate self-reliance, creativity and freedom. Anything goes in Black Rock City–except, apparently, when you’ve got a camera in your hand…

For some time, the organization behind the event has enforced a highly restrictive set of policies around photography in Black Rock. Through its ticket sales and online terms of use, the Burning Man Organization claims ownership over all photos and videos created at the festival.

In late 2009, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Corynne McSherry went on the attack, criticizing these rules in a post at EFF’s Deep Links. This set off an internet battle for the ages. Burning Man argues these restrictions protect attendees’ privacy. People escape to Black Rock to express themselves freely, not have every action documented—-and they need to be protected. But EFF thinks attendees’ freedom of expression, and their copyrights, must be respected. How do you balance both concerns?

In a interesting turn of events, Burning Man, the EFF and Creative Commons have entered into negotiations to transform the largest counter cultural art gathering in the world into a legal platform for human readable language and free culture. Will it work? Will it crash? What will they as a team decide?

Join us for a real world ethics question, and a small-scale version of the free culture debate with insights into the governance of online video platforms, privacy, autonomy, and freedom of expression. Throw in panelists from Burning Man, EFF—and giant burning wicker man—and you have one interesting discussion. http://blog.burningman.com/digitalrights/

Corynne McSherry — Electronic Frontier Foundation
Lightning Clearwater III — Burning Man IP Legal Counsel
Rosalie Barnes — Burning Man
Moderator: Katherine Chen – Assistant Professor of Sociology, CUNY

About the author: Rosalie Fay Barnes

Rosalie Fay Barnes

Rosalie Barnes works year round in San Francisco as the Senior Project Manager for the Government Relations & Legal Affairs Department of Black Rock City, LLC. During the Burning Man event, Rosalie is part of the External Relations Team, a program that gives tours of the art and infrastructure of Black Rock City to visiting officials and cultural ambassadors. Rosalie received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Brandeis University and in 2009, she received a double Masters from Harvard, focusing on Technology, Media and Learning. She first participated in Burning Man in 2000, and came to work for the Man in 2009.

10 Comments on “Burning Man at Open Video Conference in October

  • Being a participant for the past two Burns on the live Ustream and chat room generously provided by Hyper John, this topic is of interest to me. I will be watching the conference through the open video conference.

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  • Scott Williams says:

    The problem may be simply that apparently EFF is based in New York. Yes, I’m fifth generation Californian and have issues with the eastern establishment.

    I was a “media” photographer this year at Burning Man and, after experiencing the event, completely agree with Burning Man’s media policies.

    They make me think about what I’m doing and instill a sense of respect.


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  • Grossly missing from this discussion is artists’ rights when photographers are essentially DOCUMENTING another person’s artwork. In the one-sided contract for funded artists with Black Rock City LLC, the ONLY thing artists retain is their copyright. Despite this, photographs of artists’ works are found all over the internet without giving credit to the author of those works.

    Photos of Mark’s temples and Bike Arch also have been found in art shows without a courtesy notification letting artists know, for sale at decompression, and in books without proper artist copyright notices, which should include the artist names. Further, some photographers are unwilling to remove watermarks bearing their copyright, making it appear they are authors of the work.

    Until this last time we looked at the website, despite having raised this issue before, proper copyrights were not even included on the Burning Man website, nor were artists notified or given copies of calendars sold by the LLC.

    We sincerely hope these items will be addressed.

    -llana Spector and Mark Grieve

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  • Nathan Heller says:

    For those of us who were unable to tune into the live webcast — although I am waiting to hear from openvideoconference.org on this question — does anyone know of a place (online) to watch, listen, or even read this discussion that took place earlier today (Friday)?

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  • rosalie says:

    hey yall, thanks for your words of support and concern. we just finished up the presentation and there will be a feed/site for video of the event. We will definitely post the link when it is live. xx!

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  • Andie Grace says:

    One of the very reasons we do a review and approval process for public distribution of images through Media Mecca is precisely so that we can interact with and encourage/require (where possible) credit for the artists of a piece when images are sold. Noncommercial uses do not necessarily require a photographer to credit the artist, and some editorial uses are exempted from the requirement, as is personal sharing online….but most photographers want to credit the artists, and do – and we do make every effort to compel them to credit the artist of a piece wherever possible.

    Artists and their works are credited in the Burning Man calendar and our website; that’s not a project that runs at a margin that we could give a copy to every artist whose work is seen in it, but we make every effort to enforce and encourage credit to the artists and their contribution to the community’s collective memory of their work.

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  • Andie Grace says:

    Adding: Artist Rights and Responsibilities are mentioned in these terms of use for photography at the event:


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  • Andie Grace says:

    Follow up: I just checked with Cameragirl, and she says she is happy to send Mark a copy of the calendar (shoot me an email with an address?), and that whenever she actually meets an artist whose work is in the calendar, she does give them a copy.

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  • Mike Hedge says:

    I heard good things about the conference. Thanks Rasalie and Lightning!


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