EFF criticizes Burning Man for limiting attendees' fair use rights


(Image by Xeni Jardin, shot at Burning Man 2003. The photographer was wearing pants.)

The annual Burning Man fest takes place at the end of this month in Nevada's Black Rock desert. El wire, fake fur, exposed titties, fire art, pill popping, light shows, bad techno, art cars, dudes with no pants, platform combat boots, utilikilts, on and on and on — if you're reading Boing Boing you probably know what Burning Man is (and if not, read the prior BB posts linked at the bottom of this one).

So, for many years now, the organization behind the event has enforced a highly restrictive set of policies around photography and video out on the playa. The argument for these restrictions involves protecting attendees' privacy rights. People do wacky stuff out there, in various states of undress and sobriety, and nobody wants their naked DMT yoga falafel rave dance routine to end up on some sleazy "Girls Gone Wild" DVD, right? But here's a snip from a commentary by Corynne McSherry on the EFF Deep Links blog which argues these policies go too far:

Most attendees have the entirely reasonable expectation that they will own and control what is likely the largest number of creative works generated on the Playa: the photos they take to document their creations and experiences. That's because they haven't read the Burning Man Terms and Conditions.

Those Terms and Conditions include a remarkable bit of legal sleight-of-hand: as soon as "any third party displays or disseminates" your photos or videos in a manner that the Burning Man Organization (BMO) doesn't like, those photos or videos become the property of the BMO. This "we automatically own all your stuff" magic appears to be creative lawyering intended to allow the BMO to use the streamlined "notice and takedown" process enshrined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to quickly remove photos from the Internet.

The BMO also limits your own rights to use your own photos and videos on any public websites, (1) obliging you to take down any photos to which BMO objects, for any reason; and (2) forbidding you from allowing anyone else to reuse your photos (i.e., no licensing your work no matter what is depicted, including Creative Commons licensing, and no option to donate your work to the public domain).

Snatching rights on the playa (deeplinks via Wayneco)