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Worried Over Porn Shots, Burning Man Sets Up Photo Policy

BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev. — Burning Man organizers say that because more photos of nude women are showing up on online adult websites, they are ready to expel any individual who takes photos and doesn’t sign a “personal use agreement.”

The new policy goes in effect today, the first day of Burning Man, and was crafted to allow the festival to hold the copyright for images that attendees post on any website operated by third parties.

The rules give organizers the ability to force websites — even Facebook — to remove images organizers don’t approve of.

The policy says those who post photos from the event on a website controlled by a third party must agree to give organizers the copyright “so that Burning Man can enforce against the third party any restrictions concerning use of the images.”

Approved photographers will be “tagged” at the event.

But Fred Von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said the new rules don’t match with the principles that Burning Man aspires to.

“The policy allows them to exercise the censorship powers that copyright-owners enjoy,” he said.

Andie Grace, a spokeswoman for the festival, said that isn’t so and that the concern was to protect the privacy rights of the people attending the event.

“Our main concern in enacting the policy was to be able to create this weeklong cultural bubble where people can express themselves without worrying about their image being plastered all over the Internet,” she said, reiterating that Burning Man wants to be able to take down these images if the poster refuses.

“There are a lot of nude people out here, and this protects the school teacher from Iowa who doesn’t wasn’t want to appear on a porn site,” she said. “I acknowledge that the copyright law is heavy-handed way of handling this, but it’s the only tool we have right now.”

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