Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

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Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by Patiencepie » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:14 pm

I was in a coffee shop where someone had displayed photos taken on the playa. Some of the photos were for sale. I also just read some articles about the use of images and the press package that you agree to as a professional photographer taking pics on the playa. I have been noticing a lot of commercials with a clear BM influence and flavor.

My question specifically is: if your a painter or sculpter who has either your own pics you took, or images from your own brain about something burning man-ish and you create a work of art that has imagery that is influenced by your own BM experience, can you then display and sell that art? Is doing a painting of "the man burning" image infringement? There is just a lot of popular imagery out in the media that is clearly BM influenced and I was wondering what the rules and limits are. I know using the BM logo is out of the question. But if, for example, your buddy has an art car on the playa and you do a painting of it, can you display and sell that painting?

From reading the web site, it seems there are pretty strong restrictions on using Burning Man images but then I saw that funky episode of Malcom in the Middle where they go to BM and I wonder how they were allowed to portray it like that.
So if they were allowed to do that, it must be ok to paint your playa fantasy right? But displaying it for sale is the catch. Thanks for any info, insight, articles or posts you can direct me to.

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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:51 pm

I haven't seen that episode of Malcolm, but I understand that it's different from the actual playa (no cactus for instance--speculation is that that was really a rebar injury.)
I suppose we are going to have to make choices about photos like that, do we call bm and turn the cafe and artist in? That's going to be an interesting can of worms.
Reading this thread will likely give you a lot to think about.

Edited to add: The commercials don't feature any of the trademarked (or is it copywritten?) material, and are filmed at other times of years, perhaps on other playas or different parts of the black rock desert. Nothing that can be done. The desert was used well before the cacophonists ended up there. Bad Day at Black Rock was filmed there--in the 50s?
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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by mdmf007 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:19 pm

If your image is not a reproduction of someones work - in this case a photographers photo you are ok and would be considered. If you use the original stock as reference and not as a model your ok. If you come too close in interpretation your now walking a fine line as it may come down to a judge's interpretation as to whether your new artwork is a copy (illegal) or a new image (ok) and there is a lot of room for subjectivity in it. There have been wildly fantasized images of copyrighted works abused in this manner that lost their position as well. In example, Carl Barks with Disney tried to do this years ago and stirred the pot with his recreated images of Batman as a smurf. Disney challenged the paintings as infringement and Barks was ordered to cease - that case is a little different as Barks worked for Disney at one point as an artist.

BMAN LLC is known for C&D letters, they actively defend their copyrighted and trademarked materials. Infringement is a complaint driven system, the local sheriff and LE agencies are not out verifying anything. If no one complains, then you can do what you want. No complaint does not make it legal though. There is also a cost to defend as well and that should be factored into any sales. Derivative images is what your talking about Check out section 107 for a wayyyy better explanation.

Satire and parody is also protected - Our favorite smut peddler Larry Flint won in the US Supreme Court in Falwell versus Flynt saw to that. So if your art consisted of the burningman dancing with Larry Harvey you would have another leg to argue as well as to why it is free for use and does not infringe on copyrighted material. It could be debated that Larry and the Mans image are popular icons enough to grant the same protection that the fake Jerry Falwell Campari ad elicited in 1983.

Last - some characters are so widely known that their image is protected in its entirety. Draw a Mickey Mouse character and try to sell it in any form and Disney has claim and the protections on many characters is legally extended every time it is about to expire. Is the man at that point as an icon to where legal protections get stronger with time? I dont know.

My advice - ask permission; or make the new image obviously not a copy. I am not an attorney either, I just stayed at a holiday inn.


FLYNT ... stler.html
CMPARI ... ampari.jpg
Section 107 ... 16396.html
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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:49 pm

Search for "photo policy" on this board. There are several legal principles at play and none is absolute.
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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by trilobyte » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:52 pm

First, the Malcolm In The Middle episode was not filmed at Burning Man. It's a TV show (and wasn't even a terribly accurate portrayal), and they filmed it using a combination of soundstages and local Los Angeles locations.

The Photography Guide has a lot of great information, and is well worth the read. The policy's covered there, and there's a contact email address to reach out to with specific questions about a project. Plenty of artists and photographers do seek out (and get) permission prior to shooting pics, documentaries, etc. It's not that hard, and the press/media folks are generally pretty easy to work with (unless your idea is blatant exploitation of the event).

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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by Bob » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:37 am

While I think the questions and responses are complete bullshit, it warms my cockles that the term "funky" in the hippie sense remains extant in Laytonville. Somebody should alert the OED editors.
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Re: Trying to understand BM imagery use in default art world

Post by Patiencepie » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:11 am

Thanks, this helps clarify some.
When I saw that TV episode, I thought is was so off but then thought they might have to do that to not be an infringement(and also just coz it's a dumb cheesy show) but they used the name and such so I wondered.
But mostly I was wondering about playa influenced paintings and art in default. What's ok, what's not ok. Thanks!

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