Dust & Illusions, 30 years of Burning Man History, A Documentary by Olivier Bonin

Arguing about Copyrights at Burning Man

If you plan on taking pictures like 40,000 people at Burning Man, it’s a good idea to read this. Burning Man has a strict set of rules so participants can feel their privacy won’t be violated, and their image won’t be abused. The Burning Man organization (Black Rock Limited Liability Corporation) requires all journalists, and anyone with an intention to publish their photography/videos, to sign a contract that claims all copyrights of the journalists’ work, and forces them to request an authorization from the BM organization for each public use of the work they don’t own anymore.  In good faith the Burning Man organization has been arguing that this is to protect the participant’s privacy and filter medias they don’t want to see at the festival.  In practice it seems to have worked since only “News” style coverage has been published by the large media networks, and a lot of documentaries, and photography’s exhibitions have happened over the years, but we don’t know who/what has been denied. Here the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues that the Burning Man organization makes an illegal copyright claim of work they don’t own, and that their contract with journalists is too invasive. The contract basically says that the BM org has full power to decide which work is allowed to be published and which isn’t without any other specification on the work. Judge on your own:

Snatching Rights On the Playa (EFF)
EFF Says Burning Man Usurps Digital Rights (Slashdot)
Protecting Our Culture? Burning Man and the EFF (Burning Man Org’s response)
Freetards bully Burning Man (The Register-UK, an example of today’s medias poor quality)

Eventually when the time is right, I will present the full details of my own experience making this film and working with the Burning Man organization.

Olivier Bonin. Director of Dust & Illusions.

UPDATE: Balsa Man, the tiny version of the “burn”, that happens on Baker Beach, like back in the old days… has also a copyrights policy… a tiny copyright policy:

Photography, Video, and Film

All people within the boundary of the Balsa Man event, hereafter assumed to be line-of-sight, accept that BALSA MAN RETAINS ALL RIGHTS TO ALL THUMBNAILS OF ANY PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO, OR FILM THAT IS TAKEN AT THE EVENT. Rights for full size versions of photographs and video remain property of the photographer/videographer/camera operator.

Touché, as the EFF said!

Burning Man ticket 2009 BackBurning Man ticket 2009 Front

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