Burner Artists Ripped Off by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj

You would think that top DJs could afford to pay for their art installations, instead of stealing them. David Guetta is the #2 highest paid DJ in the world ($30 million in 2014, so as big as Burning Man), and Nicki Minaj is #11 on the Forbes rappers list ($11 million in 2014), the only woman listed.

Maybe BMOrg’s IP policy made it all too hard. Rather than negotiating with all the lawyers, they just went to a set designer and said “make me this”.

Guetta appears with the art piece(s) and flame effects at about 2:20.

The official video for the song is definitely Burning Man themed:

Will they appear on the Playa this year, to perform their new hit?

From thump.vice.com (emphasis ours):

Did David Guetta and Nicki Minaj Steal From Burning Man for Their Billboard Music Awards Performance?

…Structures on stage with Guetta and Minaj nearly identical to those of a Burning Man art installation known as the HYBYCOZO series have prompted accusations the DJ and rapper stole someone else’s work.

“We received several calls in the evening telling on Sunday telling us to turn on the TV to watch the David Guetta performance because our design was popping up all over the stage,” designer Yelena Filipchuck tells THUMP. “It was so egregious that people who weren’t even that familiar with the project sent us messages asking us if we did the stage design!

Filipchuck and her design partner Serge Beaulieu debuted the HYBYCOZO installation at Burning Man after a successful Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2014. The series of steel-wrought, laser-cut, light-emitting geometrical structures went on to become one of the most photographed installations in the festival world after follow-up appearances at Treasure Island festival in San Francisco and Further Future outside of Las Vegas earlier this month.

HYBYCOZO, a contraction of Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone, features a number of different geometric permutations placed in conjunction, but in particular, the pentagonal dodecahedron (12-sided structure of five-sided panels) is the design that the designers suggest was pinched by Guetta and Minaj.

side by side hybocozo

Side by Side comparison. Image: Vice

“The size looks similar at six feet tall,” says Filipchuck. “The pattern attempts to be a copy, we zoomed in and the composition of the pattern matched exactly [a circle in a pentagon] on a grid of lines coming out of the corners. The shape itself even had the same thicker darker edges, glowing from the inside and matched the distinctive laser-cut repeating patterns that we are known for.”

Strengthening Filipchuck and Beaulieu’s intellectual property theft case is the more circumstantial evidence in the “Hey Mama” video, in which Guetta and Minaj galavant in distinctly Burning Man-themed scenes, replete with dusty post-apocalyptic revelers, art cars, and a stage setup commonly used at Burner spin-off events like Desert Hearts.

…”The part that hurts the most is that we are young artists doing festival art and stage design. Now it feels like anything we do will just be copied by one of these huge corporate teams,” Filipchuck adds. “If they wanted this aesthetic they should have contacted us to discuss the options rather than [create] what a appears to be blatant rip off of our art without our permission.”

Guetta enjoys burner vibes in the video for his and Minaj’s “Hey Mama”

Read the full story at Thump.

Over to you, BMOrg. You say that your IP policy is only there to protect artists and defend our culture: please go and defend our artists and our culture from these thieves.


35 comments on “Burner Artists Ripped Off by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj

  1. The most productive outcome from this experience would be for the Burning Man artists to converge on their own “bill of rights” to be incorporated in any agreement with the BOrg for their being on the playa. The BOrg has already stepped across the commodification line, so the image of the playa as some anonymous magical experience is long gone. Perhaps the artists need their own Ten Principles for participating in the event.

    Absent a friendly pro-bono lawyer, an artist should open a kickstarter campaign to fund this effort, so the artists can claim their rights and stop being bullied by the BOrg.

    Maybe the artists could even start a Burner Artists Guild to dynamically deal with these and ongoing issues. I know that is generally against the personality of artists, but it will take something like that to keep them from being exploited.

    Now THAT would be something to promote art and artists in the world. Ironic that it would be in reaction to, and not at the initiative of the BOrg.

    • My belief is the artists of the HYBYCOZO must utilize ‘there is no thing as bad publicity’ and gain more publicity in due of this, purposed to become known for art of this manner, purposed towards sales of art of this manner, that would be most awesome.

      Nomad, you are a tad behind the times in regards of the rubbish artists contract, mate. Ross Asselstine has most honourably led attempts towards negotiating a fair contract of the artists and the Borg, but, Ross states

      A lot of great artists took negotiations this far and you may need to get creative to be able to Make the Burning Man Art Grant Contract More Fair. Please get the word out for change.

      We sense a little movement, but it needs a little public push to get it done right once and for all. Ring someone, write someone, post on social media, tell your camp and crew what is here and see if there are creative ways to finish this effort. The hearts and minds closed with the doors at Alabama Street and they need to be reopened.’

      The rubbish new, hidden, artists contract, at the least, requires of the Borg to name the artists, in the place of claiming credit for their art, states the websites of the artists, and states the kickstarter and indiegogo sites of the artists, in place of the prior donations through the Salesforce of the Borg, of which, solely $123,000 was raised within 2014. But, the Borg, takes towards their BRC LLC pockets, or their Decommodification LLC pockets, the cash for licence of fotos and movies of the art, in place of paying the artists in a most fair manner, and of many other issues.

      In a most seldom manner might I utilize caps locks, but, this is most important, purposed towards assisting of the awesome artists –



      In addendum, I am most curious in regards of the contract the artists, whom are not paid the little amount of cash by the Borg, must sign to place their art upon the playa.

      • ABP, thanks for the link with the PDFs!

        Has there been any consensus effort to get the artists together on this? Any site or social media group?

          • Interesting that they still want to remain largely anonymous, for fear of retribution from the BOrg, whose claimed premise for existence is supporting art and artists. I suppose the BOrg see themselves as the Medici, with the same attention to art as an avocation while the core business is power. …Not exactly creativity and free expression, but don’t tell the faithful.

  2. You Burners just hate to be reminded what derivative, culture co-opting, consumerist shills you are in the first place.

    • excuse me, whats wrong with anyone trying to make a living from their work? artists must be starving and penniless?

    • I would actually buy one of those lights if they were made out of metal for that price. 300$ for some laser cut painted wood is to much when they can stamp those out by the hundreds.

  3. The cat’s out of the bag, not sure how much Burning Man can prevent people from creating things in the desert while wearing goofy clothes. Sure, it’s totally Burning Man, but at the same time, shouldn’t George Miller be suing Larry for ripping off The Road Warrior? Or maybe Russ Meyer should be suing George Miller for ripping off Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!?

    As for the art piece, it’s a laser cut wood sculpture with lights. There have been those kinds of pieces at Burning Man, but also elsewhere. It’s an idea.

    • Its not inspired or influenced by the original piece… its the EXACT same piece with a slightly different cutout pattern.

      • “Its not inspired or influenced by the original piece… its the EXACT same piece with a slightly different cutout pattern.”

        So it’s also an illuminated octagonal laser cut wooden structure. But with different patterns. OK. Can another artist create an illuminated octagonal laser cut wooden structure, or is that combo now exclusive?

      • And how about those patterns? They look awfully similar to some Moroccan designs I’ve seen on screens. And the intricate vaguely Eastern laser cute aesthetic itself is extremely similar to David Best’s temples. Who’s stealing from whom, here?

    • Also this:

      “If they wanted this aesthetic they should have contacted us to discuss the options rather than [create] what a appears to be blatant rip off of our art without our permission.”

      An aesthetic is awful hard to pin down and copyright, and even the originators of an aesthetic draw from numerous sources to come up with it in the first place. A movie like The Brothers Bloom, which shamefully borrowed from the Wes Anderson aesthetic, can suck all kinds of ass while also not violating any kind of copyright.

  4. I get it…it doesn’t have anything to do with Bmorg. Just another conspiracy theory with no backup.

    • You think this story is a “conspiracy theory”? What is the “conspiracy”? Seems more like a blatant rip-off to me. Did you watch the videos?

      • The conspiracy is believing this has anything to do with the BM intellectual property rules. You’ve never made the connection.

        • No, the conspiracy is keeping the artist contracts secret, so no one else can be sure what is and is not in the agreement. That, and the bizarre blanket BOrg IP rights claims (like to the pictures I have taken at the NV burn) makes for some incredibly muddy IP waters. But Pooh, if you have a link to the artist contracts, so all can know what is in them, that would be helpful. 🙂

          • Are you saying that the non-disclosure clause of the contract is only a false rumor, and that the artists have unilaterally decided to keep the secret?

  5. I think this explains why the BOrg will keep their lawyers idling… “after follow-up appearances at Treasure Island festival in San Francisco and Further Future outside of Las Vegas earlier this month.” It is just the artist doing their thing at the NV burn and OTHER places. Since it is not unique to the NV burn, it does not provide narcissistic supplies to the BOrg. In fact, it makes them seem an also-ran: very very un-NPD.

  6. Serious question: I’m not understanding how Burning Man’s intellectual property policy is the problem here. Is the artist’s creation somehow Burning Man’s intellectual property? Can you connect the dots from the policy to the theft. They don’t seem connected to me, but I may be missing something.

    • I’m no lawyer, so I don’t know how they are all connected. But assuming a theft has occurred and money is owed the artist, certainly the Org has much more legal firepower then the artists do themselves. I’m with burners.me here, I think the Org should step in, if nothing else than to send the message that its not cool to come to burning man and copy other people’s art for use in your commercial abominations.

        • Imagine you are producing a music video, and you want to include some Burner art. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just contact Burning Man’s IP licensing department, choose one of the works available, and then the artist got paid, and BMOrg took a cut for facilitating this extra income for the artist? It seems like that would be a scenario where everyone is a winner, and no-one got robbed.

          Why didn’t this happen? Who would they call? Are they supposed to somehow track down the artists behind every work ever at Burning Man, by themselves? How would they even begin? How could they tell which art is unencumbered (they can negotiate directly with the artist), and which is restricted (BMOrg partially funded it, and therefore is in control of its use)? Do you think this process would be easy, or difficult? Could it perhaps be so complicated and lawyer-involving, that it’s easier to just say “rip it off”, than “figure out this maze of unique rules and restrictions that don’t make a lot of sense”?

          How is that BMOrg’s fault? They wrote the rules. They are the only group in the world putting these type of restrictions on artists, while at the same time they crow about how great they are for supporting them. No, it’s the Burners that support them. Without Burners, there would be fuck all Burner art.

          So then, what is the purpose of Decommodification LLC, and BMOrg’s IP licensing department? And what is the purpose of artists assigning rights and sales commissions to them in the contract? Who pays for all these lawyers anyway, Burners through the tax-free non-profit, or the 6 founders who privately own the IP and profit rights through their secretive company?

          I’m not going to continue your usual game Pooh of “but I don’t understand, explain it to me further”. I’m pretty sure everyone here understands both my writing, and your shilling for the Org.

          • Yes, the BOrg have inserted themselves so as to claim their largely unearned IP rights while proscribing artists from identifying and promoting their art as being at the NV burn. By my understanding, a web page with a simple picture of their art on the playa, and a statement that it was at Burning Man is not as-of-rights allowed. Yet that, and a playa “Gallery Guide” could easily identify all placed art and the artist for those interested. No, the artist is to be starving and penniless, while the BOrg has a private party around it where billionaires get to fly in and gawk while the BOrg pockets undisclosed millions, taking pleasure in making the burners jump through hoops and wait in lines to make the event happen.

          • This is what I’ve been asking. What rules are you talking about? It seems you are suggesting Burning Man commodify the artists. Imagine what you would write if they came up with that idea themselves. I think a voluntary registry would be great, but doesn’t artery already do something like that. Not sure any of this would help as the set designers ripping off artists are usually pretty good at altering what they do just enough to avoid legal problems.

    • As the BOrg has setup Decommodification LLC, there is no explicit IP connection. But this speaks to the BOrg’s rationalization for creating Decommodification, “in order to limit their use by outside businesses and preserve our culture of decommodification.”

  7. Time for a donation to the BMP, maybe enough to get one of them on the BoD.

    Yes, one way or another, they must pay homage to the BOrg. As for the artist that made the art in question? Well, seems he cannot collect unless all other parties agree to pay him, particularly the BOrg in their incarnation as Decommodification LLC. Or am I reading the back of the ticket wrong?…

  8. Dis.Gus.Ting – I thought I could not like Guetta less… but there you have it. I cant even imagine how the artists feel. It’s one thing to have your art ripped off… but by this team of douchebags… for this? Ugh. And don’t even get me started on the video…

  9. That is such bullshit! Squash the little guys and take all the credit. I know Serge personally and there isn’t a nicer guy around. I hope they are able to ream Guetta and Minaj for millions! What a rotten thing to do. Hang in there Serge, you will get what’s right.

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