TRADEMARKS AND COPYRIGHTS FAQ
Q: I have a cool product / piece of art / costume / art car that I think my fellow burners would love. I want to sell it on eBay. Can I put “Burning Man” in the title so buyers can find this perfect product more easily?
A: No. Aside from the handful of t-shirts and our yearly calendar, the only “product” made by Burning Man is a ticket. You may use the words “Burning Man” in the title of a ticket auction, but this trademark cannot be used in the title of an auction for anything else. You can, however, use the phrase in the description section, as in “perfect for Burning Man!”
Q: Isn’t Burning Man all about freedom of speech? Who do you think you are, telling me I can’t sell my art?
A: Burning Man is about freedom of speech and respect for the rights of others. You are free to sell your art anywhere you please, as far as we’re concerned. But you are not free to use our trademarks or images / footage taken on the playa to do it. Again, we must be consistent. For more information, see the Trademarks section, above.
Q: But then why do you list some vendors on your website in the Resources section? Isn’t that endorsement?
A: Those vendors listed in the Resources section have been recommended time and again by our attendees. The list is certainly not comprehensive, nor is it an endorsement; we simply list examples of where one might go to buy, for example, a portable shower for their camp or a way to light up one’s bike at night. Still, as you will notice, none of these items claim to be a “Burning Man Shower” nor a “Black Rock City Bike Light”. For more information on finding products that will minimize your impact at the burn, click here: Environment Resources.
Q: I’m throwing a fundraising party for my theme camp (or a blowout for all of the burners in my city). Can I use the words “Burning Man” or “Black Rock City” on the event flyer or in the e-mail invite? How about a picture from the event in the background? Or a drawing of the Man? Can I call it a Decompression?
A: No, unfortunately this is much like the answer above. We do not allow outside entities to use these marks to promote events, no matter how small the event. The only outside entities permitted to use any of these marks are Burning Man’s Regional Contacts with whom Burning Man a legal relationship and who are contractually bound to uphold certain principles when using those marks. Our name on an event flier also can have liability implications. May we suggest using the words “desert” or “playa” instead to demonstrate your affiliation to the community? For information on joining up with regional events, click here: Regional Network.
Q: I’m thinking about making a pendant / mug / t-shirt / poster / piece of art / piece of memorabilia with the Man or a picture from the event on it. That’s not a problem, is it?
A: Once again, the answer is no, unless you are making these items to be given away as gifts. If the item will be sold – even if done so at or below the cost of manufacturing – it cannot incorporate our trademarks. For more information, see the Trademarks section, above.
Q: But isn’t it true that Burning Man sells t-shirts? How does that make sense?
A: The small amount of “schwag” we offer to the public is created by and for participants within the context of your participation. Its aim is to communicate the experience of Burning Man and your involvement in our culture. (We think it’s a pleasure to bump into fellow burners in strange places. If a t-shirt makes this happen more often, we’re happy.) We do not advertise these items outside of our community, and you won’t see them for sale at Hot Topic. In fact, you’ll notice that the items we do offer are not significantly highlighted on our site, and the “marketplace” is kept rather discreet. These items are offered for sale within the context of participation in the community, to allow those that are a part of it a mechanism to express their affinity. All proceeds go directly towards the support of our organization. To see what we sell on the site, click here: Marketplace.
(The following is a brief summary of the information found here: Rights & Responsibilities)
Q. Can I use a camera (still or motion) on the playa?
A. You may use a camera on the playa for personal use. If the camera is only capable of still photos you do not need to register it. If it is capable of capturing even brief still footage, you must register it by signing a brief personal use agreement. If you are interested in shooting for professional purposes (book, fine art, documentary, film) you must register by clicking here: Press.
Q. What is the difference between “personal” and “professional” use with my still camera? Why do I have to register my video, but not still?
A. If you’re shooting still photos just to show friends and family, that’s personal use, and you do not need to register. However, all still photographers who wish to shoot professionally (e.g., any situation where the photos will be shown in public or attempted to sell for profit) must register as press.
Every camera that is capable of capturing motion imagery, whether for personal or professional use, must sign one form of agreement with Burning Man. Again, any footage that will be shown beyond “friends and family” is considered professional use. The exchange of money is not required for a use to be considered “professional”.
Q. What can I do with the photos or footage I’ve captured?
A. You can share them with your friends, family and campmates. You can place them on a personal website. You cannot post them on a commercial site or portfolio site, nor can you sell them or place them on products for sale, such as t-shirts, postcards, or prints. Using the photos editorially or for a book project also requires special permission from Burning Man on a case-by-case basis. The use of such images on promotional materials (such as theme camp fundraiser flyers, newspaper ads, or brochures about your jewelry company or other kind of business) requires written permission as well.
Q. Can I show them at a party or regional event?
A. You can show them at a private party. You cannot show them at a public party (including regional events) without getting permission from Burning Man. You cannot use them as visuals at a public party (for example a VJ at a rave).
Q. Will I be filmed on the playa? Don’t they need my permission?
A. By entry to such an event, you agree to the possibility of being filmed if you enter. We strongly encourage those with cameras to ask before shooting, and most professionals will also carry model releases. In addition, professionals have a legally binding agreement with Burning Man to get case-by-case approval on anything they shoot before it is used commercially. For example, we do not approve pictures of nudity where the subject appears to be unaware of the camera.
Q. What if someone loves my personal photos or footage, and suggests I enter a contest / gallery showing?A. You may contact Burning Man to seek approval for this use by sending an email to press (at) burningman.com.