Wednesday, May 5, 2010

“Snatching Digital Rights” or Protecting Our Culture? Burning Man and the EFF

In a slightly different take on privacy, we have the ongoing controversy that began last August regarding who owns images taken at Burning Man. The organizers say they do in order to protect participants privacy, while others, namely the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) criticize this policy and are misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The link above is in response to the EFF article also linked to within the article. Wrestling with issue of personal rights of privacy, both sides present compelling arguments. The DOI permit for the Burning Man event specifically states that this event is conducted on public lands, and I know that to be true. So, to my knowledge, a permit does not constitute the authority of a private business (Burning Man) to trample/over-step the rights afforded to the people granted by law while on public land. I wonder if the Bureau of Land Management where the event is held agrees with that statement?

Here is the Burning Man terms of agreement over "Use of Images" I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT NO USE OF IMAGES, FILM, OR VIDEO OBTAINED AT THE EVENT MAY BE MADE WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM BURNING MAN, OTHER THAN PERSONAL USE. I understand that I have no rights to make any non-personal use of any image, film, or video footage obtained at the event, and that I cannot sell, transfer, or give the footage or completed film or video to any other party, except for personal use, and I agree to inform anyone to whom I give any footage, film, or video that it can only be used for personal use.

Burning Man states that they do this in order to "To protect our participants so that images that violate their privacy are not displayed." Others (EFF for one) say that a benevolent censor is still a censor. The controversy continues and neither side has acquiesced, although I do know they willingly and freely continue to engage in the dialogue.

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