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A Creative Commons license simply does not provide Burning Man the direct ability to enforce against such use – something we’ve unfortunately run up against many times as we work to keep such commercialist wolves at bay.

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.

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 Mc Sherry would have you believe.

For example, it provided the very backbone of our case in 2002 when Voyeur Video surreptitiously obtained footage of dozens of nude participants over a span of several years and began releasing the tapes, under the name “Rainbow Fire Festival.” Because of Burning Man’s requirement that all motion video users in BRC sign a Personal Use Agreement and agree not to exploit such footage publicly for commercial gain without additional permission, we were able to prevail in this matter — not only ending the sale of the Voyeur Video tapes, but legally requiring its producers to agree not to return to Black Rock City.

We’re proud that Black Rock City (a private event held on public land) is widely acknowledged as a bastion of creative freedom.

When an image is used for advertising, we are no less firm, but mindful of the human touch in requesting removal; a DMCA notice is a last resort.

For one such site taken down with the DMCA notice last year, the vendor, an outdoor outfitter, used the Burning Man symbol, photos of the Man, and text lifted from on their website to sell camping supplies.

Granted, we can’t say whether the Burners in those porn site photos would ever have found those images of themselves online, nor had the capacity or means to respond even if they had — but in such instances a DMCA was necessitated because it was clear that there were no model releases on file (indeed, subjects are frequently shot from far away and totally unaware of the camera in photos like these), and the content was presented in a salacious and/or pornographic manner.

We feel strongly that Burning Man can and should be a place where there are controls to prevent this sort of surreptitious exploitation, and we act to incite quick response to protect that privacy.

When the “big guns” of the DMCA takedown notice come into play, it generally comes after we’ve exhausted all other options. In the past year, Burning Man has issued five successful DMCA takedown notices to four independent websites, and one to You Tube.

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