John Law Sues His Former Burning Man Partners

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Postby geekster » Sat Jan 13, 2007 8:00 pm

Another way of looking at it is that the "damage" to the event is pretty much done if you consider the growing of it to its current size as damage. Anything that could be done at this pojnt would be closing the door some 10 years or more after the horse had left the barn.
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Postby geekster » Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:51 pm

Well, John Law has posted M2's complaint on his blog. It doesn't look good for Larry either.
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Postby Bob » Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:42 pm

Why not trust that people might care, or not, for their own particular reasons?

I love John, and Larry, and Michael, and I hope they all win. I care a lot. And while I think we plebes are never going to know the outcome of the probable out-of-court settlement, I would have loved to see the symbology appropriated by the LLC revert to the public domain, the sooner the better. It's an intriguing concept.
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Postby Archantael » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:27 am

After reading that complaint in my opinion it looks like someone got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And all of this stuff certainly helps reinforce the complaints about possible corruption at BMHQ that keep circulating, after all The Hat himself could be perceived as being corrupt depending on how one intreprets Michael Mikel's complaint. How far does it go, what other questionable practices are going on?

I kinda wonder...but it's not worth putting a lot of time and energy into it. Let the lawyers slug it out, and we'll wait for the next .PDF to be posted with updates.
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Postby helitack » Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:00 am

...and maybe stop the attempt to act as "agent" in regards to copyrighted art.
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Postby geekster » Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:23 am

Not sure I would like to see it "public domain". I would like to see it where nobody could make money off of the marks and logos. Public domain means anyone can use them for commercial purposes. What would tickle me is some kind of "viral" license like the GPL only different. Stipulate that the logo and marks can not be sold and nothing they are attached to can be sold except the tickets to the event(s). So the moment you attach the word "Burning Man" or a BM Logo to a pair of boots, the boots must not be sold/bartered.

I care as far as caring for the human beings involved. But as for the event itself, my comments were based on a belief that anyone that really cares about this had probably already stopped going. So population figures are near 40,0000. Around half of those people have never been before. That leaves 20,000 who might care and if half of those decided not to go, that would reduce the population by 10,000. And no matter what happens, it wouldn't change what most people do in their camps or with their art on the playa. It probably wouldn't change the nature of the event no matter how or by whom the names and logos are owned.

At least by shining a big bright light on this, it might start some navel gazing at BMorg.
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Postby Zane5100 » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:19 am

The complaint details the events of the 80s up to the mid-90s pretty well, but left me wondering what's Law done since '96?


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Postby Dork » Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:23 am

geekster wrote:What would tickle me is some kind of "viral" license like the GPL only different. Stipulate that the logo and marks can not be sold and nothing they are attached to can be sold except the tickets to the event(s).

If that were to happen, how would I know which cubicles belong to fellow burners?
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Postby K-mom » Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:18 pm

O that's an easy one - just look for the cubicles w/ hookers & blow.
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Postby skygod » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:14 pm

You don' need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
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Postby dragonfly Jafe » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:21 pm

...if it really is a for-profit event for a few people, might change how the common volunteer feels....

The claim is "no-commercialism", but lately there has been a seepage into mainstream commerce (Malcom in the middle, lexus, discovery channel). Did any of the artists get reimbursed for their creations that were shown on the discovery channel (for profit to an unknown few)? How much was made by BM for these liscences?

BM is seeming more-and-more like a rock concert, and less like a counter-culture experiment. I don't usually volunteer to help out at rock concerts. I pay my price, watch the show, then leave.

Is this what we want BM to evolve to? If every BM attendee treated BM like a rock concert (as opposed to a noble experiment), could BM survive?
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Postby EricMagic » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:43 pm

Ha Ha Ha You people are really getting warm.

Before too long you nice people may find out that you can make your own event and throw a party anytime you wish. Or you may get close to finding legitimate ways to not pay income taxes, or to even stake out new lands for your own that no one is guarding, or to starting your own constitution for a new nation. Go Wild People Go!

If anyone is really excited about reaching for really big goals, let us build a navy or a self sufficient society and knock down any bullies that try to get in our way.

Shoot for the moon, and the next solar system to throw some really big parties and really big ideas!


geekster wrote:
Cynically, I have called it "tricking" people into entertaining each other, and taking a fee. Suspense of disbelief. Good times. One day everyone will stop and look around at each other and say, "Hey! We're out in the middle of the frickin' desert!" And that will be the end of Burning Man.


To be honest, it has crossed my mind that having Burning Man pay the salaries of Larry Harvey et al. is probably the greatest caco prank of all time.
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Postby The CO » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:04 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote:The claim is "no-commercialism", but lately there has been a seepage into mainstream commerce (Malcom in the middle, lexus, discovery channel). Did any of the artists get reimbursed for their creations that were shown on the discovery channel (for profit to an unknown few)? How much was made by BM for these liscences?


Well... Malcom in the middle needs no licensing to do a parody about something (this was discussed on another thread-Someone look it up) and was not shot in BRC, discovery channel was doing a documentary (again, no licensing required, but must abide by media rules), not familiar w/the lexus thing you speak of.

Now, I can't speak as to whether or not the Borg got paid for any of it. But, it is their event, private llc etc., they can really do what they want with it.
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Postby K-mom » Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:11 am

The Lexus thing refers to the Belgian project, Uchronia/Waffle dome this past year.:
viewtopic.php?t=15570&highlight=lexus
I'd summarise it but I'd have to read the thread again else I might mess it up. But yeah, it was used for a Lexus ad.
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Postby The CO » Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:48 am

Oh yes, I recall now. The stuff I saw on the lexus site was not the BRC haystack, but was a smaller similar structure made by the same people. Again tho, I don't think they would have to lisence their own art from the borg...

Any belgians out there that can provide details?
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trade mark to public domain

Postby vic » Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:20 am

If the Burningman trade mark was moved to public domain it would be a major loss to the organization that puts on the festival. Without the trademark anybody could put on a festival called Burningman any place and time they wanted - and you know they would. The organization would be forced to start using a new trade mark, and that would be expensive. The organization (BMORG) is strong enough to make this change, but the cost of establishing a new name for the festival would drain resources away from the event.

Once in the public domain, the term "Burningman" would be used for a variety of commercial purposes and we would all quickly lose interest. In No way would this benefit our community, but it would punish the current management and all of us who still have an interest in participating in the event.
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Postby EvilDustBooger » Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:22 pm

Public domain could work.

It`s the public that throws the event.

BMORG is merely the facilitator, though we know it (the event) couldn`t happen at such a grand scale without massive logistical planning.

...it could then evolve like life itself. <----(could be Larry`s words)

...the "real" event in the desert could follow in the footsteps of BurgerKing and be known as BRC, home of "The Original BurningMan".

And put a registered trademark on the "Original"

...hold the lettuce.
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organizing your own event

Postby vic » Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:45 am

The overall organizing strategy for our arts festival is "open source". We all know how to do it, and many of us have organized our own smaller scale events. Before Burningman started I was organizing camping trips where friends came together to have fun, do "art", get high, build a bonfire with an effigy at the top, and so on. One of my ancestors invented this plan 10,000 years ago and it has been passed down to me. Larry, M2 and John Law mugged me in San Francisco and stole the concept.

Let me say it again with what I hope is greater clarity - putting the name "Burningman" in the public domain benefits no one. Let´s say that the name moved into the public domain in 2008 and that 10 groups organized festivals using that name. How would you know which to attend without more information? You might end up trying to party with a bunch of racist tea totalers, attending a training meeting for time-share salesmen, or camping with a bunch of half-crazy, self-important, counter-culture artists from San Francisco.

For anything to happen, each festival would have to provide more information and a unique handle so that potential participants would get some idea of what they were getting into. Putting the name into the public domain is something like everyone on the playa using the same handle - imagine for a moment if everyone insisted on being called "Larry" ? OK, maybe that would be fun for a little while, but then we would want to move on.

Speaking of moving on, I see a fair amount of hosility toward the current version of the event on the eplaya and on the laughing squid discussion boards. To these folks I say - show us how to do it better.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:25 pm

Yeah, gotta agree with Vic. Putting the Burning Man name and symbol in the public domain would be a bad outcome. The event would be exploited completely by the hucksters and Humvee manufacturers and gradually sink back into the mire of Defaultia.

Also, let's all get off Larry's ass for a moment. (Have fun with that metaphor, will ya!) This really is not about a grab for the golden pot of cash. Why do I say that? Each shareholder's stake in BMorg is a whopping $20,000. The licensing fee to Paperman was, what, a staggering $1,800 bucks? Im not flushing money down the toilet these days, but that ain't exactly the kind of dough that would justify some of the shit said about the Hatted One.

Let's look at it from BMorg's persepective just for fun (and Im not trying to defend their position whatever the hell it is.) After 1996 John Law wanted out and his share was reduced with his consent to 10%. For all practical intents and purposes, he voluntarily quit. That left the Hat and M2. Why should BRC LLC, which "runs" or "puts" on the event have to pay a token amount every damn year to an entity made up of Larry, M2, and the absent Law? Why SHOULDN'T BRC LLC own the trade mark? (Well, contracts, obviously.) Again, the licensing fee is fairly minimal in the big scheme of things.

Im also curious how M2 (and Ive met the Dude, he's genuinely a prince of a man from what I could tell) claims a conflict of interest w/re Larry when he, M2, negotiates on behalf of PaperMan while he is also a member of BRC LLC. That's part of his beef with the Marboro Man.

Yes, it does appear Harvey was sneaky, and that does bother me. But it also bothers me that the absentee John Law filed a complaint in a public forum, when the agreements specificy arbitration (a private forum.) I think Law was motivated out of spite and wanted to air the dirty laundry. Of course that gives dopes like me some drama to write about on the e-playa.

Harvey, M2, and J. Law should duke it out in the Thunderdome this year. Last man standing (or dangling) becomes King of Burning Man.

That's my two cents...and I know I've probably just "killed" this thread. Im good that way
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Postby BAS » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:45 pm

Hmmm. A Thunderdome battle for leadership rights to Burning Man...? I wouldn't mind seeing that! Could anyone enter, or just those three...?!?

:D


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Postby K-mom » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:28 pm

Ahhhhhh, Battle Royale style !
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Postby natthebat » Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:46 pm

"How far does it go, what other questionable practices are going on?"

Let's talk some more about that on the playa when the detectives aren't watching. Why 2? One for me and one for my sister or one for the day and one for the night or one for the front and one for the back or just because 4 eyes are better then 2?

Well OK whatever, let the super highway-n-shit come through.
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Postby natthebat » Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:21 pm

"But if the name vanishes into public domain can’t EVERYONE use it for advertising purposes? If somebody doesn’t own it and protect it, what’s to stop Coke from slapping the man on the side of a can? Couldn’t some porn company hire girls with tattoo and produce “Burners Gone Wildâ€
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Postby natthebat » Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:48 pm

I was thinking about it some more and I had a realization. It was cool, there was a light bulb above my head and everything.

I was thinking about last year when the BLM was raising some issues with the law enforcement and attempting to make BM do some rather questionable things. One of these ideas was placing a cap on the number of people able to attend the event. This is something that cannot be allowed to happen. It is unconstitutional regardless of how naked we might be, or how much fun we might be having. We have the right to gather together. That's #1. It is very important. As long as there are people willing to do the work to interact with the law, BM must defend against the slow erosion of rights. When I wrote my letter to the BLM to protest these ideas, I copied the first amendment into my closing remarks.

So now I see another side of the issue. It is multifacited. Allowing the name to go into public domain could mean that it is safer from this constant threat. Advertising is not the enemy. Apathy on the part of Americans is the enemy. I would rather see it get too big then be another mistake of injustice quietly accepted by people too disarmed to engage in a real stand off. We have the right to live as we see fit. That is proper anarchy.

Never Again.

So now I think your egg shells have become land mines. While we're on the topic of the constitution, I wish to share what I told my daughter about the second amendment. It's not about owning guns and shooting people. It is a symbol. It is about your right to be smart enough to not have the government tell you what you're smart enough handle. When you are disarmed you cannot fight. Sometimes you must fight, but how you will do so is a matter of the highest art.

Back to the issue at hand. This is about information and values. A matter of a sustainable future. I really wish for temple of the 3 guys to reconnect until they can agree to act within the best interest of the community. It is time to work together in a stratigic, artistic way. Set the emotional aspect aside, use your tools, carry on.



Everyone loves a good stand off. Makes for an exciting show. Gets everyone involved. Ladies and Fuckers, place your money where your mouth is and roll the dice again!

Thank you. Thank you very much. :twisted:
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:58 pm

any update on this crap?
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Postby we0ne » Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:44 pm

April Fools Day comes early to BRC!!

Nice joke, can't believe someone took so much time to script the document, grammer and spelling errors a plenty.
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Solution: Change the NAME!

Postby DoctorIknow » Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:59 pm

My first year at the event, '98, I was mystified the morning after the burn to find people sleeping in the man's ashes. My question to myself was "How did a sculpture become an icon? How is this a good thing?"

Although the eplaya is full of ash worshippers, who can be amusing defending their idea of the event or telling others what is burner-correct or in-correct, this thread is about a lawsuit, , , about the most real thing there ever was. I see it as a gift to everyone, as the fallout will make some difference in the event, for better or worse. (Hey, don't knock "worse." Remeber, the Hindu goddess Kali is a much more worshiped icon but represents destruction, inevitably followed by birth of something new!)

I've shared the following thought with many (who usually look at me like I just shit on the playa) :

Why must we see "The Man" sculpture every year? If a centralizing symbol is needed to entertain the crowds or be the point from which all the roads are surveyed, why couldn't it be different every year?

Progressive thinkers have trouble understanding how regressive thinking has become so powerful in the country, yet by embracing the stability of a symbol (and all it represents) they themselves are on a see-saw between progressive and regressive.

I'm all for every gizmo, porn site and hardware store having BurningMan logo on it, and that 100 festivals selling $3 six-ounce water bottles use the name, and that the event as we know it gets some courage and changes its name every year and casts the stick figure to winds.

Does the "product" BurningMan help our individual journey that engages us so wonderfully, or perhaps horribly? The BurningMan "product" pays for the infrastructure, but couldn't the same be done without the branding?

Is there really any reason why the infastructure and the number attending the event need to be bigger and bigger every year? Isn't control of the trademark just adding to the "bigness?

Isn't it possible the "yearly event" could exist quite well if it were smaller and the employee roster decreased?

Maybe the court will decide in favor of John Law, and maybe, just maybe, the profit motive of the organization will be forced to re-think itself (if there is a profit motive, for all I see from them are idealistic visions of regional events, personal growth rants and non-commericalist philosophy. LOL ! !)
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Postby BAS » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:29 am

Does the "product" BurningMan help our individual journey that engages us so wonderfully, or perhaps horribly? The BurningMan "product" pays for the infrastructure, but couldn't the same be done without the branding?

Is there really any reason why the infastructure and the number attending the event need to be bigger and bigger every year? Isn't control of the trademark just adding to the "bigness?

Isn't it possible the "yearly event" could exist quite well if it were smaller and the employee roster decreased?


Maybe, maybe not. Stability aids growth, and so the basic question would seem to be: Is growth desirable? If so, at what rate and is there a desired upper limit?

If Burning Man is some sort of message, some sort of incubator for ideas to be spread to the outside world, then growth is probably desired. The event needs to be growing to produce seedlings which will sprout in other locations. (What these seedlings are is another topic, and very much tied to what the event is ulitimately about-- and that seems to be rather vaguely defined.)

As is pointed out in the book "Growing a Business" too rapid growth would actually be a bad thing. As Paul Hawken mentions in the book, cancer cells are the most rapidly growing ones in nature, and not at all desirable for a healthy organism. Too rapid growth is probably what led to the troubles back in 1996, events which came close to killing the event.

There are natural limiting factors on Burning Man-- remoteness, a harsh environment, a "BYOB" (and everything else) philosophy, etc. Despite these factors, the event has kept growing-- although it still isn't large compared to regular conventions. (Gen Con, the largest gaming convention, is about the same size, and is considered small by the standards of Indianapolis, the conventions current home.) Location-wise, the playa seems to be a good location for controlling growth.

Branding-wise, the logo is a fairly easy to draw symbol, which means people can sketch it out quickly wherever and whenever they feel motivated. (I read somewhere that ease of drawing a logo is good for a movement.) It is also easy to recognize, which is a good thing. Drawbacks would seem to be that it looks an awful lot like the KOA logo, and one or two others.....

Changing the logo every year would be confusing to people, and, therefore, limit growth-- something which could be considered in the future, but now...? I am thinking it probably isn't really needed, unless there is a problem I am not aware of.


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Postby Glittering Clitoris » Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:00 pm

She said I'm sorry baby I'm leaving you tonight
I found someone new he's waitin' in the car outside
Ah honey how could you do it
We swore each other everlasting love
She said well yeah I know but when
We did - there was one thing we weren't
Really thinking of and that's money

Money changes everything
Money, money changes everything
We think we know what we're doin'
That don't mean a thing
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything

They shake your hand and they smile
And they buy you a drink
They say we'll be your friends
We'll stick with you till the end
Ah but everybody's only
Looking out for themselves
And you say well who can you trust
I'll tell you it's just
Nobody else's money

Money changes everything
Money changes everything
We think we know what we're doin'
We don't pull the strings
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything


Money changes everything
Money changes everything
We think we know what we're doing
We don't know a thing
It's all in the past now

Money changes everything
Money changes everything
Money changes everything

And now for a Cup of Burning Man Starbucks Coffee with real dust from Black Rock City where it is mined by out of work unpaid volunteers given one free ticket to the event most of whom have never seen the Man burn because never attained the senority to get Saturday Nite Off!

But who really cares?

When there's Gold on that there playa! Gold I tell ya! Make a man want to kill his brother! Make a woman to poison her man and take off with another!

Gold always kills but IT never dies!

Out there on that playa there's only dust, but That dust there is made of Gold!

Gold I tell ya!
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