Who Won, Who Lost, What’s Fact, and What’s Propaganda? – Decommodification LLC’s First Legal Stoush [Updates]

Recently we posted a story Victory For The Little Guy, about BMOrg’s failure in its personal pursuit of Napalm Dragon in Canada.

One of our readers Anon said:

“It would be helpful to provide links to the documents, or the documents themselves, that caused this article. This includes, but may not be limited to, the court’s decision, any settlement agreement(s) and/or stipulation(s) and the final judgment from the court that sets forth the determination from the court (as to him personally and the corporation) and the ability to enforce that determination/judgment.

Everything else is, as they say, commentary, especially where you have a non-lawyer characterizing legal documents that may or may not be a correct characterization of those documents. He may be entirely correct as to what he claims, but it may also come as no surprise that sometimes legal documents get misunderstood by even the finest trained or untrained legal minds. This is what often leads to litigation.”

a_stickler_for_detail_by_abecedarianjameson-d6wjkiqFair enough – we always like primary source documentation here, the more the better. We are trying to deal in #truth, not propaganda. So we posted the documents we had available at the time, and asked Napalm Dragon to provide more. He refused, which is also fair enough: you’d probably be sick of the whole Burner world too, if you’d just spent two years of your life being hounded by them trying to extract every last cent you had.

Well, luckily for us all, BMOrg have published some documentation. They said:

Update 1/21/16:

For those of you who have asked to see the Court’s judgments in writing, here they are for the record:

[Source: Burning Man Journal]

Unfortunately, you have to actually click these links to realize that what they said is not true. The first 3 links all go the same document from 2014. The Settlement Agreement from a month ago is Missing In Action. The only new piece of information provided is the 2016 judgement, which says:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 09.47.22

In BMOrg’s spin, this is a resounding victory for them, and a massive loss for the alien entity determined to ruin their shiny corporate values with the foolish idea that “burn culture means something to the people who created it”. If you set fire to an effigy anywhere on the planet, you are worshipping the Ten Principles™, and doing something that Burning Man™ invented and owns. Got it? Crimson Rose invented fire dancing, and now we have the court documents that prove it.

Or do they?

At first glance, from BMOrg’s point of view this seems like a win. Bhak and Burn BC can’t use Burning Man or Decompression.

The problem with this narrative, is

  • Decommodification LLC and their tax-exempt subsidiaries did not register any trademarks in Canada before 2014; Canada has different trademark laws to the US
  • Bhak did, saying he wanted to protect Burner culture from commercial exploitation, by placing them in the public domain to benefit all Canadians
  • The new U.S. corporation that Burning Man sold (Gifted?) the U.S. trademarks to sued him, in order to be able to exploit the marks commercially
  • Bhak was not allowed to mount a defense, since he couldn’t afford a lawyer; he publicly stated he would let the trademarks lapse so BMOrg could finally get around to registering them
  • There was a default court judgement, which acknowledged BMOrg’s rights to the claim and prevented Burn BC from using the marks
  • BMOrg decided to go for the jugular, coming after him personally for further damages

So #1, in the Judge’s Order reproduced above – they had already won that. He agreed not to contest the trademarks if Decommodifcation LLC wanted to register them in Canada, and he agreed not to use them. The only new thing in a year is #2. Correct me if I’m wrong, lawyers, but “The Plaintiffs’ action is dismissed, without costs” means “Plaintiff lost”.

Most of this happened in 2014. In January 2015 we covered it in this story: Burn BC Admits Defeat in Battle for Public Domain

Screenshot 2016-01-23 10.48.53

 [Source]

The above reads to me like the judge said “$10,000 total, including costs and damages”. However, on the record it looks like $10,000 in damages and $10,000 in costs:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 10.46.36

[Source]

Whether the final reward was $20k or $10k is neither here nor there for a $32 million corporation. To put this in perspective, it is about the same as what BMOrg spends in a month on Board member Terry Gross or costumes (although that has been kept a secret since 2013).

So what has happened in the year since this ruling? Why is this case still continuing?

Cutting a long story short, BMOrg continued to pursue the guy personally – and this is what has just been thrown out by the judge.

I have been busy with other things this week and so missed the BJ post Burning Man Resolves Trademark Issue in Canada. Luckily, other Burners are on the case – thanks Ang and Nomad. Ang has actually summarized what’s going on here very well, after several unsuccessful attempts to get straight answers out of the spin team:

The documents attached and the links provided in the various messages pose more questions than answers, and do not support any indication that Decommodification won anything more than one-time trademark protection.

Decommodification originally sought a cease and desist order with regards to use of their identity (a valid claim), ownership of the Burn BC identity and $25,000 in punitive damages. They ended up with a cease and desist agreement, no ownership of Burn BC, zero dollars in damages…and several thousands of dollars paid out in legal fees.

Burning Man’s initial post above implies that the defendant was required by law to appoint a lawyer and was not qualified “under Canadian law” to represent himself. Yet the document attached by Burning Man dated November 2014 implies that he may very well have been permitted to represent himself…if not for the lengthy, legal objection filed by Decommodification’s corporate legal team in that document. That objection alone, with its citings of previous cases, must have cost Decommodification thousands of dollars in legal costs.

The last sentence in the last document attached says it all: Besides the defendant agreeing to not associate his organization with Burning Man, the entire case “is otherwise dismissed”. No damages paid to Decommodification, no further repercussions against the defendant.

Which begs the question: What was the point of all this? What did Decommodification hope to gain from spending untold tens of thousands of dollars fighting a legal battle in a foreign country…for what? Just to put down some nobody clown who nobody ever heard of until gifted with this notoriety?

Moreover, nothing in what has been made public so far shows any deterrent for the next clown with a lot of time and no money, who, either out of playfulness or vindictiveness, decides to pull the same stunt only to “bleed” Decommodification financially.

Companies work hard to build their corporate identity and need to protect it. Considering the free-spirited culture they purportedly encourage, could Decommodification practice a bit more prudence rather than costly unbridled litigiousness?

[Source]

It’s kind of cute – but hardly ironic – to watch the BMOrg propaganda team in action.

  • First, we see someone posting anonymously in the comments at Burners.Me saying “but where are the documents?”, with a tone implying that we are trying to mislead readers by not posting them.
  • Next, BMOrg do a BJ post saying “we won and look, here are all the documents to prove it”. Presumably, the implication is that they are being transparent and only dealing in facts (by posting the documents). Judging by the comments, that works on some of their audience.
  • In fact, they don’t post these documents at all. The one new document they do post, really shows the opposite, further confirming the facts of our story.
  • All the other links in reality point to a single document. This shows how they got the Court to prevent Bhak from mounting any kind of defense or submitting his own evidence and arguments. This was certainly a moment of legal victory for the Decommodification, LLC team, but is much less relevant to the discussion than the Court Documents link we posted in response to Anon’s request. What it illustrates is BMOrg’s bully tactics, and how unjust this Goliath vs David proceeding was.
  • The same anonymous person posted here again about the documents, immediately before BMOrg posted their update. Then, they posted a third time with a link to BMOrg’s new post, saying “This is why seeing the original court documents is helpful since there’s obviously another side to the story”. They don’t appear to have actually read the original court documents in the post they’re linking to, since that post did not link to any except the final ruling which supports our original story and Napalm Dragon’s position, and the suppression of legal defense.
  • Then, BMOrg employ techniques of spin and wordsmithing (the latest Minister of Propaganda has a degree in Rhetoric) to craft reality into an outcome that appears more favorable to them.
  • Next, they get their Propaganda team in the comments, to spread further misinformation (note they have specifically stated that there is no obligation for them to post true information in their comments)Screenshot 2014-12-05 19.38.09

In this case, “Burning Man” (speaking under cover of anonymity about their own story) said:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 10.14.26

“Burning Man just isn’t enforcing the monetary award” – well, technically that’s true as of yesterday, when they made this statement. Their heavyweight multi-national legal team just spent more than a year trying to enforce the $10,000 monetary award, and now that Decommodification & Co lost that case and the judge dismissed it without costs, they can’t do it anymore. Which is hardly a gracious concession on their part.

Here’s the Propaganda-spun version:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 12.55.54

Again, I’m no expert, but it’s hard for me to interpret the Judge’s ruling “Plaintiff’s case is otherwise dismissed, without costs” as something that gives BMOrg a choice to enforce a financial judgement against Burn BC.

It’s worth noting also that to dismiss this case last week (Jan 19th), the judge didn’t even show up in the courtroom.

Screenshot 2016-01-23 11.08.04

Which does call into question Napalm Dragon’s tale of a lawyer cowering in defeat…

Screenshot 2016-01-23 11.53.16

…although the date on this post is the 13th. The last session I can find with the parties together was a court-scheduled mediation by video-conference in November 2015:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 11.46.58

Perhaps it was related to this session on January 12:

Screenshot 2016-01-23 11.49.35

I asked Napalm Dragon to comment, and of course anyone from BMOrg is most welcome to comment here too. He said:

Here is the Facebook Link https://tinyurl.com/BurnBC-End-Game

burn bcThere is a lingering question that has been posed to me in light of some PR published on a website in the USA, regarding why “I WON”.
The reason I WON is clearly explained to anyone willing to read and understand the following in it’s entirety (every single word), and really think about it; not like a game of Checkers, but like a game of Chess. Or for the gaming enthusiasts who even get the g105 gaming keyboard, like a game of GO.
The American corporation Decommodification LLC can say whatever they please, their owners have been doing it for years. I’ve talked to university graduates who’s thesis papers about “this culture” were rejected by professors as outright garbage for badly sourcing this kind of propaganda almost word for word; as essentially lazy “research”.
I’ve read some it myself and it’s rambling dribble, with no foundation on anything substantial.
A PR campaign by a Privately Owned American Corporation is just Marketing spin. It’s Propaganda (Literally) If that’s anyones source of information, they just want to believe what they want to believe and nothing will change the washed brains of a “Contractually Obliged Brand Cult” who want to freely exploit the goodwill of many beautiful people, while raking in millions for other people taking advantage of them.
This is the end game.
Any deviation from this PR story is grounds for ostracization from “the community”. (AKA) that which is “controlled directly or indirectly” by Decommodification LLC. 
It’s none of my business.
I don’t care.
(Metaphorically Speaking)
I held a window open for other people as long as I could, and when that opportunity passed for them, I took the exit I planned all along and leveraged it for what I wanted, to begin with, and left. The culture is gone from this meaningless name, and I’m following it out the window.
The door is closed, the window shut, and the idiots who signed contracts and gave away their personal rights are trapped in a room slowly suffocating on the rotting stench of this decrepit corpse, to the bitter end.
I’m walking in the open fields in the sun.
At peace, with no obligations whatsoever to any of this.
My conscience clear.
** Now regarding the less metaphorical realities of how the Federal Court works and WHY I WON.** 
Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is either lying to you, or has no idea what’s happening.
Something like 98% of cases in Canadian Federal Courts are settled out of court, and never go to trial. So a smart person works proceedings like a Chess Game, NOT Checkers. Or for anyone who’s really into ancient gaming; as an Atari in Go.
In other words, if all you see is one chess match, you’re missing everything else that matters.
I forced Decommodification LLC to make some serious concessions, that are not in the public record, and are by no means confidential. I am in no way bound to any “Gag Agreement”, and never conceded a key detail that will always remain my Trump Card if anyone hassles me in the future.
I hold these papers in my hand right now, and only a few people clearly understand exactly why this is so significant.
If you remember, at the outset of all of this, I made it extremely clear I did not want “Burning Man”. Neither did Burn BC. This was my Atari.
My goal was to offer it to Canadians and walk away and essentially be done with it as a mutually respectful gift to the culture I nurtured here in Canada, before it was ever even vaguely associated in any way with a stick man.
But, one woman called it “My mark like NIKE” in a phone call to me on April 1st of 2013, and proceeded to call this a “Battle”, turn this into a “War” and claim “The Community” as her pawns in this sadistic game of hers. As she put it, “Three little dots”, on her game board.
Insignificant little dots, coloured red, yellow, and blue; condescending little details in what I later realised was an epic End Game in a 20 year plot.
So, you see, I leveraged the arrogance of a highly vengeful woman who walked right into my Atari, and went after me personally.
Once able to defend myself, I moved proceedings one motion away from a complete dismissal on grounds that could have brought the entire Decommodification LLC plot crashing to the ground…
My Atari was complete.
I forced concessions from a literally cowering and slightly terrified lawyer (working for the largest law firm in Canada, representing a multi million dollar privately held American corporation) who’d been caught essentially misleading the Court based on a weak (at best) case, and I walked away with what I wanted all along.
… and as a bonus, my pawn.
Burn BC; completely intact.
My prize, the concessions in my agreement.
In writing, legally binding.
Not a nickle paid to me, not a dime paid to Decommodification LLC.
I won, with a clear conscience.
Now they can fuck off and leave me alone, as I requested in 2013.
They can say whatever they like, spin it however they please, outright lie at this point, and it doesn’t matter to me.
I won.
I’m at peace, my conscience is clear, and my art is mine; that art being an expression of the culture that gave a little bonfire in Nevada some meaning for a few years.
I’m going to explore the next paradigm without this epicly obnoxious shadow of Ember Dude looming over me, my art, my family, and my culture.
With Peace,
I put down the gift I held with curiosity, an enigma in a pandora’s box, waiting for anyone willing to see it.
I’m going to literally play with my three year old son now, and keep teaching him chess, so he can one day learn to play Go; A Japanese game I played in the hills of Hawaii at the age of 9, while living on a property next door to Terence McKenna.
With Love,
Bhak Jolicoeur (AKA) Napalm Dragon
Artist, Impresario, and Sacred clown.
[Source: Facebook]

 

Like always, check the facts, do your own research, read the documents, make up your own mind. When we provide links as references, we link to actual information. Why would we do that, unless we were concerned about #truth? Why would BMOrg post fake links to different documents, if they cared about truth – not propaganda and “optics”? [Update: possibly in response to this story, BMOrg did produce the documents and apologized for the error. We have also published more documents, see below]

The bottom line to this story is Napalm Dragon tried to protect burn culture from commercial exploitation, and got sued by the corporation seeking to commercially exploit it. The latter group won the right to continue their exploitation unfettered, but kept pursuing a few meager dollars. BMOrg’s justification for this is they are trying to “protect our culture”. Meanwhile, Burners everywhere are dismayed as our culture is in tatters. The Founders say “we’ve jumped the shark and that’s OK”; the Veterans who have given so much to make this city world renowned are being shoveled out the door to make room for starry-eyed Simpsons spectators, who saw Dr Phil and thought they’d come see the freak show while bringing their grief and misery to the Temple.

SO… who’s left to protect our culture?

 

business-shark

Court Documents:

List of Official Court Information, including key dates and filings

19 January 2016 Judgement Against Defendant

21 December 2015 Settlement Agreement

13 January 2015 Decommodification LLC vs Burn BC Arts Cooperative Order and Reasons

13 January 2015 Order re Motion for Default Judgment

6 November 2014 Order Denying Motion to Represent Burn BC

27 April 2014 Original Statement of Claim


[Update 1/23/16 1:19pm]

Thanks to a reader for pointing out that Decommodification, LLC filed a trademark application in Canada in 2014 – one which may have implications in the present “live entertainment” argument that is currently holding up ticket information for everyone.

Screenshot 2016-01-23 13.19.23

 

 


[Update 1/25/16 9:19am]

Looks like BMOrg have fixed their links. Here are the additional court documents:

21 December 2015 Settlement Agreement – note this confirms that Burners can throw an event called The Burn

13 January 2015 Order re Motion for Default Judgment – in which we have a judge saying “Burning Man is a festival”

We’ve also obtained the original 27 April 2014 Statement of Claim by Decommodification LLC, Burning Man Project, and Black Rock City LLC, doing business as Burning Man. This document begins with the statement “if you wish to defend this proceeding, you or a solicitor acting for you are required to prepare a statement of defence…”  – which is ironic, given BMOrg’s later successful legal move to prevent the defendants from mounting a defence without a solicitor.

It also says “the Plaintiff’s intention is to bring together a community of individuals of similar artistic and spiritual ideas and to create an environment in which individuals are encouraged and enabled to express artistic interests and join other artists in the creation of their vision”. So it’s a festival about art, and spirituality.

There is no vending of drinks, which is an interesting statement to make in a legal case.

what you can buy at burning man

Image: Business Insider

They say “the only exception is for ice and coffee, which are sold by volunteers, with all profits donated to local municipalities”. It would be nice to see an accounting of these donations, old Burning Man used to share it but in Burning Man 2.0 it is now secret – we just have to take their word for it. There is nothing in the IRS Form 990 for 2014 mentioning this program or these local donations – although it does recognize revenue from sale of inventory of $258,803 and merchandise of $39,201; the costs for sale of ice, coffee, and merchandise in 2013 was $455,546; in 2014, ice alone was $477,770. So is this program making a loss now? Or was $258,803 the amount given to local charities from the on-site cash vending?

Anyway, let’s hope all this documentation is enough to satisfy Anon!

Over at the BJ, Ang has commented that after reviewing the available documents, their verdict is “DRAW”. Which means BMOrg managed to go from Victory to Draw by continuing to pursue this for a further year.

Thank you, Burning Man, for posting the missing documents. They make for some interesting reading, and while I admit I have only a cursory knowledge of the case, I was inspired enough to read a bit more of what each party is saying to claim victory over the other.

To put it bluntly, it’s a case of Slick Multi-Million Dollar Corporate PR vs Bloviated Bravado from an Egomaniac out of his league.

The documents show that the defendant attempted to trademark the Burning Man identity in Canada, including “BC Decompression” and “burningmanarts.ca” ( “.ca” being the extension for Canada, as “.mx” for Mexico). That is such an egregious infringement that one has to wonder why it was attempted if not to deliberately engage Decommodification in lengthy – and very public- litigation.

In reading his over-the-top “victory” speech/claim, the defendant asserts he was working for *all* Canadian Burners to put Burning Man in the public domain in Canada.

Is he serious? I am not aware of any public outcry from Canadians claiming they particularly want, or care, or would even be better served by, that corporation in the public domain.

The fact is that this guy no more represents volunteer Burners in his country than (as Nomad points out in his comment above) Decommodification represents all volunteer Burners who make the event happen.

But more importantly, this decision by the court, buried within the documents and not highlighted in any great detail by either party in their subsequent spins, highlights the biggest victory for Decommodification and loss for the defendant. The defendant lost in his attempt to claim the Burning Man identity for himself, for whatever purportedly altruistic (real or imagined) intentions he may have had.

In the end, both sides wound up exactly where they started, save for tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) paid out in legal fees by Decommodification and mental stress and anxiety on the part of the defendant (inspiring him, at some point, to lead a Fund-me campaign to send him on a de-stressing vacation (?!?!)). Subtlety has obviously never been one of his traits.

As for the defendant’s assertion that he made Decommodification’s lawyer “go pale” and cowered before the defendant’s legal mastery and “destruction” of Decommodification’s case against him…um, yeah.

Both sides won some and lost some. The defendant keeps his company and his company only and Decommodification keeps theirs. Each can claim victory (and one can claim he “destroyed”) the other, but I’m calling it a draw.

[Source: Burning Man Journal comments]


 

[Update 1/25/16 10:43am]

Not really off topic, since the Burning Man Project legal team has moved from one public battle to another – one which is Immediately affecting every Burner negatively, with an unclear upside. I mean, sure, we all want to save $35 from our overall cost of going to Burning Man – but we’d all like to be buying tickets and planning art projects too. Burners can pay the tax and carpool, thus being left with a $15 profit after saving on the vehicle pass.

Thanks to A Balanced Perspective for sharing a link to the actual legislation for the Nevada Live Entertainment Tax. What do they mean by Live Entertainment?

“Live entertainment” means any activity provided for pleasure, enjoyment, recreation, relaxation, diversion or other similar purpose by a person or persons who are physically present when providing that activity to a patron or group of patrons who are physically present.

(b) Excludes, without limitation, any one or more of the following activities:

(6) Entertainment provided by a patron or patrons, including, without limitation, singing by patrons or dancing by or between patrons;

What an interesting coincidence, that we have a theme of Medici and patronage, when the word “patron” is key to BMOrg Decommodification LLC’s latest legal adventure.

NRS 368A.090  “Live entertainment” defined.

      1.  “Live entertainment” means any activity provided for pleasure, enjoyment, recreation, relaxation, diversion or other similar purpose by a person or persons who are physically present when providing that activity to a patron or group of patrons who are physically present.

      2.  The term:

      (a) Includes, without limitation, any one or more of the following activities:

             (1) Music or vocals provided by one or more professional or amateur musicians or vocalists;

             (2) Dancing performed by one or more professional or amateur dancers or performers;

             (3) Acting or drama provided by one or more professional or amateur actors or players;

             (4) Acrobatics or stunts provided by one or more professional or amateur acrobats, performers or stunt persons;

             (5) Animal stunts or performances induced by one or more animal handlers or trainers, except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (7) of paragraph (b);

             (6) Athletic or sporting contests, events or exhibitions provided by one or more professional or amateur athletes, sportsmen or sportswomen;

             (7) Comedy or magic provided by one or more professional or amateur comedians, magicians, illusionists, entertainers or performers;

             (8) A show or production involving any combination of the activities described in subparagraphs (1) to (7), inclusive; and

             (9) A performance involving one or more of the activities described in this paragraph by a disc jockey who presents recorded music. For the purposes of this subparagraph, a disc jockey shall not be deemed to have engaged in a performance involving one or more of the activities described in this paragraph if the disc jockey generally limits his or her interaction with patrons to introducing the recorded music, making announcements of general interest to patrons, and explaining, encouraging or directing participatory activities between patrons.

      (b) Excludes, without limitation, any one or more of the following activities:

             (1) Instrumental or vocal music, which may or may not be supplemented with commentary by the musicians, in a restaurant, lounge or similar area if such music does not routinely rise to the volume that interferes with casual conversation and if such music would not generally cause patrons to watch as well as listen;

             (2) Occasional performances by employees whose primary job function is that of preparing, selling or serving food, refreshments or beverages to patrons, if such performances are not advertised as entertainment to the public;

             (3) Performances by performers of any type if the performance occurs in a licensed gaming establishment other than a licensed gaming establishment that is licensed for less than 51 slot machines, less than 6 games, or any combination of slot machines and games within those respective limits, as long as the performers stroll continuously throughout the facility;

             (4) Performances in areas other than in nightclubs, lounges, restaurants or showrooms, if the performances occur in a licensed gaming establishment other than a licensed gaming establishment that is licensed for less than 51 slot machines, less than 6 games, or any combination of slot machines and games within those respective limits, which enhance the theme of the establishment or attract patrons to the areas of the performances, as long as any seating provided in the immediate area of the performers is limited to seating at slot machines or gaming tables;

             (5) Television, radio, closed circuit or Internet broadcasts of live entertainment;

             (6) Entertainment provided by a patron or patrons, including, without limitation, singing by patrons or dancing by or between patrons;

             (7) Animal behaviors induced by animal trainers or caretakers primarily for the purpose of education and scientific research; and

             (8) An occasional activity, including, without limitation, dancing, that:

                   (I) Does not constitute a performance;

                   (II) Is not advertised as entertainment to the public;

                   (III) Primarily serves to provide ambience to the facility; and

                   (IV) Is conducted by an employee whose primary job function is not that of an entertainer.

[Source]

Ironically, the DJ clause seems to suggest Dancetronaut’s guy on the mic actually may have helped BMOrg’s case that the music at Burning Man is not live entertainment.


[Update 1/25/16 2:42pm]

A Balanced Perspective has pointed out that the law as shared dates from 2006; does anyone have a link to a more up-to-date version, assuming that the one posted on leg.state.nv.us can’t actually be trusted? This site says 2014 at the top, but 2003 and 2005 at the bottom.

Nevada Senate Bill 266 amends the Live Entertainment Tax – National Law Review, June 2015

The bill also removes most of the exceptions to the definition of “live entertainment.” Notably, “a performance by a disk jockey who presents recorded music” will now be taxable as live entertainment under all circumstances. However, under the plain language of the bill, the following activities will not be taxable:

go-go dancing;

activities that do not a constitute “performance”;

uncompensated spontaneous performances not exceeding 20 minutes in a 60 minute period, and;

marketing or promotional activities that are associated with the serving of food and beverages, and do not last longer than 20 minutes within a 60-minute period. 

[Source]

Here is a proposed amendment to the law from August 2015 from gaming.nv.gov. Significantly, it defines Patron as:

NAC 368A.370 “Patron” defined. (NRS 368A.140) “Patron” means a person who gains access to a facility where live entertainment is provided and who neither solicits nor receives, from any source, any payment, reimbursement, remuneration or other form of consideration for providing live entertainment at the facility

[Source]

So if a patron pays a performer, they’re not both patrons. At least, that’s how I read it. I refer you to Marian Goodell’s interview last year in which she said Commodification Camps and sherpas were great because“The culture of Burning Man can really flourish with money…[for example] to bring great musicians to your camp”.

They are trying to broaden the DJ definition to include VJs, lasers, lighting and other visual effects:

“Performance” to mean, as used in subparagraph (5) of paragraph (b) of subsection 2 of NRS 368A.090:
(a) The presentation of a live entertainment activity [other than an ambient activity, provided by a person or group of persons to a patron or group of patrons] that is the primary reason for which a patron paid an admission charge to access the facility.
(b) When determining if the presentation of a live entertainment activity is the primary reason a patron paid an admission charge to access a facility, the Board may consider some or all of the following factors:
(1) Whether the live entertainment activity is advertised, promoted, or otherwise marketed;

(2) Whether the live entertainment activity garners the predominant attention of a patron or patrons of the facility; and

(3) Any other factor that would support a finding that the live entertainment activity constitutes a performance.

“Performance by a disc jockey” to mean the playing of recorded music, the mixing of audio or the adding of sound, video and lighting effects by a person or group of persons to a patron or group of patrons.

[Source]

So I guess a big test for Burning Man would be “did patrons buy a ticket to Burning Man to watch the Burning Man burn?” Presumably their argument is that we’re there for the TED talks and sex workshops – certainly, we couldn’t be there for the dance music!

Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, an admission charge is subject to the tax imposed by NRS 368A.200 when it is paid in exchange for admission to a facility where live entertainment is provided, regardless of when the live entertainment actually commences.

 [Source]

This wording from Justia (2014) is interesting:

5. The tax imposed by subsection 1 does not apply to:

(b) Live entertainment that is provided by or entirely for the benefit of a nonprofit religious, charitable, fraternal or other organization that qualifies as a tax-exempt organization pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 501(c), or a nonprofit corporation organized or existing under the provisions of chapter 82 of NRS.

[Source]


[Update 1/25/16 7:12pm]

Thanks to a reader who sent this in. Decommodification, LLC (operating out of BMHQ) filed a trademark application in Canada on January 11, 2016 for the familiar “Man” design.

Screenshot 2016-01-25 19.13.51

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Burning Man

BMOrg continue on their mission to get every mainstream business publication to look at them for guidance on how to run companies, with Harley Dubois giving an interview to Entrepreneur magazine.


re-blogged from Entrepreneur.com (emphasis ours):

If you aren’t already an entrepreneur, you may become one by the time you leave Burning Man — in some shape or form.

You won’t make money in the desert; the exchange of money isn’t allowed at the annual, weeklong arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But you will have created something for someone. You will have seen a need and met it. You will have innovated a solution to a problem or decided to spontaneously create a new service or product for yourself and your fellow Burners (that’s what attendees are called).

And that energy, that entrepreneurial spirit, is priceless. It’s what so many management consultants charge top dollar right now to bring to stuffy corporate offices.

Lessons From Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Image credit: Jared Mechaber
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…Whether your goal is to get your creative juices flowing, or to facilitate a more experimental and productive workplace, you need to start by eliminating unnecessary regulations and burdensome structure. At Burning Man, “an entrepreneurial spirit is going to come to the forefront very easily because there aren’t a lot of rules, but there is opportunity,Harley K. Dubois, a co-founder of the event, told Entrepreneur earlier this fall at The Feast, a social innovation conference in Brooklyn, N.Y…

“It is unrealistic to think people aren’t going to judge. People are people and they do, but when they do and somebody calls you on it, you have to reflect on yourself,” says Dubois.

Burning Man, like entrepreneurship, is an event that requires equal parts organization and whimsy… 

Part of the entrepreneurial culture at Burning Man, says Dubois, is that there are no repercussions or penalties for failure when you are out in the middle of the desert. “Failure is part of it. I mean, you should be happy you failed because that means you can get it right next time!”

Lessons From Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

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Burners attempt everything from building airships made of color and light to sail across the Burning Man playa at night to creating man-made mobile “icebergs” for Burners to cool off in and listen to music in. And then there are more practical entrepreneurial operations, like the mobile “Dust City Diner,” which serves hot grilled-cheese sandwiches and coffee to fellow Burners. “We create a vessel and the participants who come to our event bring the content. We are vessel creators. Without the people coming and bringing those costumes, bringing their ideas, bringing their art, bringing everything they bring themselves, this wouldn’t happen,” says Dubois…

While the first iteration of Burning Man was largely about stereotypical “hippie/artist” sorts sleeping in tents on the desert for a week, the last few festivals have been increasingly attended by the Silicon Valley elitein a sort of hedonistic party meets business networking opportunity. Entrepreneurs get funded, co-founders meet and come together and deals are made, all against the backdrop of dust for days and almost-naked revelers. Dubois wishes the Burning Man team had been tracking the businesses that were incubated in its dust-covered-temporary city.

“If we had tracked all these businesses that had come out of the inspiration of Burning Man, we would have a really amazing tree to look at,” she says.

Lessons From Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Read the full article here.

Pumpin’ for the Man

by Whatsblem the Pro

IMAGE: Leo Cullum/Condé Nast

IMAGE: Leo Cullum/Condé Nast

 

The Burning Man Org is hiring again! Do you have the Right Stuff for the job?

Having recently lost/let go of Quinn “Ghost Dancer” Yarborough (under, we should point out, reportedly amicable circumstances), the Org is now keen to fill the vacuum he left and hire a new Nevada Properties Manager. This is a full-time paid position, and the successful candidate will be eligible for benefits.

According to Kat Steinmetz, Black Rock City LLC’s Head of Human Resources and Administration, “this role is responsible for the management and oversight of Black Rock City’s Nevada properties and facilities. The Nevada Properties Manager is responsible for the complete maintenance of all facilities in Gerlach, Nevada, which include but are not limited to the Office, Helen’s House, the Saloon, the Trailer Park, the Showers Property, the old Theatre, and Black Rock Station (BRS).”

Note that you’ll need to live in or relocate to Gerlach, Nevada (population: small but pleasantly weird) in order to take the job. The NV Properties Manager traditionally resides at the DPW Ranch year-’round, which can get lonely and boring if you’re on your own and not easily entertained. The shrewd applicant will have an unruffled mind well-stocked with the kinds of thoughts that can carry one through a medium-length prison sentence without going stir crazy. A body devoid of all hint of genitalia may also be preferable, but in lieu of that you should be adept at arranging regular conjugal visits either in Reno, at the Ranch, or at one of the other ranches in between the two that exist specifically for that very purpose. If you’re the kind of person who thinks it would be a good goof to watch DPW roughnecks twitch and leap in response to every directive you bark at them in your Command Voice, then you may not mind the isolation and accompanying forced celibacy nearly as much.

The duties and essential job functions of the NV Properties Manager are as follows:

  • Manage and maintain all elements of the Nevada properties including BRS including the power, fuel, water, waste, structures, general environment and overall conditions of the ranch.
  • Manage and administer services to buildings, power plant, water system, gates, fences, signage as well as general housekeeping.
  • Initiate, develop, and maintain an inventory of the properties and associated equipment stored at BRS.
  • Maintain registration and insurance documents for the DPW Fleet Vehicles.
  • Responsible for the overall Burning Man event physical assets in Gerlach, Nevada and at the Black Rock Station.
  • Maintain permanent residence at BRS for 12 months per year with vacation to be agreed upon in advance.
  • During the off-season (November-March), greet and direct volunteers and visitors at BRS to best inform them of current rules, procedures and protocols and to best utilize the resources available. Work with the Nevada Operations Labor Coordinator to collect “round up forms”. Host orientation sessions. During the on-season (April-October), these duties are performed by the BRS Access Manager, assistant to the NV Properties Manager.
  • Inspect and ensure that fire extinguishers are current. Ensure that first-aid kits are on hand and maintained.
  • Help identify opportunities for and potential liabilities to the properties.
  • Manage the maintenance, development and acquisition of BRC’s purchased and leased property in Nevada
  • Prepare and manage annual Nevada Properties budget
  • Work with Federal, State and local agencies to ensure compliance with regulations affecting Properties and Operations
  • Manage and maintain communication equipment on property in Nevada as necessary. Work in conjunction with ESD Communications
  • Oversee routine care-taking, maintenance and landscaping on all BRC properties as necessary
  • Schedules and coordinates NVP’s construction activities and subcontractors
  • Ensure and maintain record of all tests of material requiring testing, e.g. fire certificates, electrical certificates, fire etc. Work with other BM departments as required.
  • Act as a liaison to local businesses and residents. Handle local public relations and policy decisions as necessary. Represent BRC in Nevada.
  • Communicate on a regular basis with BRC Board members and other DPW Council Members. Provide weekly reports and provide feedback as necessary. Commute or telephonically attend meetings as necessary
  • Oversee work weekends schedules, shop use and special project needs of BRS with assistance from the BRS Access Manager.
  • Review progress reports, cost reports, schedules and requirements for project completion
  • Observe and relate relevant information to the BRC Board pertaining to any major conflicts, problems, needs or needed repairs to all facilities.
  • Maintain radio communication with the Gerlach Office and others as necessary.
  • Understand the integrated plan (IP) with other departmental timelines and objectives for the completion of each phase of BRC development; setup, maintenance and tear down.
  • Maintain and monitor the BRS Ranch House power plant.
  • Supervise, Evaluate and Provide Leadership for the Year-Round Gerlach Staff, BRS Work Crews and Work Weekend Volunteers during the event season.
  • Serve as Primary Contact / Liaison for ALL Black Rock Station activities.
  • Work in concert with the LLC and the Nevada Ops Council in managing the DPW and other BM departments collective use and care of the various Nevada Properties/Assets during the event cycle and through out the year.
  • Research and secure any required permits and/or building codes related to Property developments. Work with BM’s Contracted Planners, County and State Agencies when necessary to establish and maintain mandated code compliance.
  • Enlist and supervise independent outside contractors or any specific professionals as needed to accomplish routine maintenance or fulfill specific task as needed or required.
  • Oversee the private storage containers project for the Burning Man Event.
  • Other duties and projects as assigned

The following qualifications are required:

  • Facilities Management experience
  • Budget reporting skills and previous budget responsibilities
  • Ability to think on his or her feet, problem solve, critically think and remain calm under stress
  • Good communication, mediation and listening skills – ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts
  • Personnel management experience; proven leadership skills
  • Proven ability to interface well with the local community
  • Cheerful, outgoing, professional demeanor conducive to effectively presenting information and responding to questions from all levels of staff, volunteers and vendors. This position requires the ability to respond professionally to all individuals and work well as a team player.
  • Ability to maintain personal integrity and uphold high standards of confidentiality.
  • Demonstrated resourcefulness and good judgment
  • Ability to manage multiple projects, prioritize, and manage time appropriately.
  • Ability to foster a cooperative work environment.
  • Willingness and ability to live in Gerlach, a remote location
  • Able to travel for work
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of basic maintenance, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical skills necessary
  • Organizational skills
  • Strong computer, email and Internet experience
  • Knowledge of basic construction and shop practices
  • Has an awareness of the volunteer process, and has a welcoming attitude toward the integration of these volunteers into the installation and dismantling of BRC
  • Valid Class “C” Drivers’s License and clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 60 pounds

The following skills are not required, but candidates possessing them will be preferred:

  • Nevada Contractors license
  • Experience with Carpentry
  • Possess operating skills and certifications for Heavy Machinery
  • Experience in Property Maintenance

If you think you qualify and you’d like a shot at the job, you can submit your résumé and cover letter online at http://blackrockcity.theresumator.com/apply/5Shp1N/Nevada-Properties-Manager.html?source=staff

To be considered for employment, you must submit your application by 5:00 PM on Sunday, Aug 25th, 2013.

Good luck!

LOVE FOR SALE: Bruno Throws in the Towel

by Whatsblem the Pro

Photo by Consumptionblog

Photo by Consumptionblog

Big news in Gerlach this week as real estate magnate Bruno Selmi, the Ted Turner of Northern Nevada, puts Bruno’s Country Club up for sale at a whopping 1.5 million dollars. The property is well-maintained and consists of a bar, a restaurant, a 53-unit motel, and a mobile home/RV park.

Selmi came alone to America on a boat from Italy at a tender age, leaving the post-war Old World behind for a life of better prospects. He wandered the States, picking up odd jobs and cooking for a living, until he settled in Gerlach and opened a restaurant.

After his first venue in Gerlach burned down, he opened Bruno’s Country Club in 1953, and has presided over the place (and the town) with little to no competition to worry about ever since. Selmi has gone from success to success in the intervening years; he must own at least half the businesses in town, and they say as a commercial entity, he was second only to the railroad for decades. When Burning Man moved from a San Francisco beach to the Black Rock Desert, Bruno got pushed to third place, at least seasonally, but his business interests began to boom.

If you had to guess what the secret to Bruno Selmi’s success might be, luck would no doubt figure prominently in your mind, but you would be slighting the man for his hard work and thrift. He still drives the Jeep Cherokee he bought new in the ’80s – the receipt is on the wall in his restaurant – and he never misses a day of work at the Country Club. He even tends the bar from time to time. . . and Bruno Selmi is a multimillionaire.

The townsfolk of Gerlach seem to love him and his place. “Bruno’s a genuine Gerlach icon,” one tells me. “He likes to play surly, but he’s a good guy. He throws free chukar bird feeds for the locals in season, and lots of us come together to make ravioli for him by hand. It’s sort of a town tradition. He’s like our unofficial mayor.”

Bruno and friends enjoy some world-famous ravioli. Photo: RenoJohn

Bruno and friends enjoy some world-famous ravioli. Photo: RenoJohn

Thanks to Burning Man and the annual gathering and diaspora of burners from all around the globe, the ravioli at Bruno’s place – a hundred miles from anywhere, in a town with a population under five hundred – is genuinely world-famous. The service is notorious, too, but Bruno is cherished for his cantankerous demeanor. One Yelper described the place as “an oasis in the desert” with “a dash of Stockholm syndrome.”

With all the turmoil, secrecy, and misinformation swirling around the Burning Man event, it’s hard to say what the sale of Bruno’s Country Club portends. There has already been some talk online to the effect that Bruno must know something; speculation is that Burning Man will be moving soon, and Bruno is getting out while the getting is good. As an explanation it sounds legit enough, but unnecessary: Bruno Selmi is no longer a young man, and it seems perfectly reasonable for him to want to retire. Indeed, the real estate listing at BizBuySell contains an entry that says simply “Reason Selling: Retirement.”

No matter how you slice it, it’s the end of an era. . . and who will feed DPW?