There Are No More Heroin Overdoses

Report by Terry Gotham

Enough people sent me the NY Times article about Fentanyl overtaking Heroin that I had to say something about it. If you’ve not seen it and the plurality of think pieces surrounding it, the only piece you need to read on it is by the person who runs The Dose Makes The Poison, Kevin Shanks. He’s been one of my go to sources on novel psychoactive substances for years now, and he, along with a handful of others have been yelling as loud as they possibly can. The point he raised almost a month ago is one I’ve not seen a single mainstream medical journal begin to grapple with in any kind of meaningful way.

As I’ve said for a while now, this ain’t your father’s heroin. At what point do we stop calling it heroin and refer to the standard “heroin” product on the street as fentanyl?
~Kevin Shanks (9/2/17)

While drug overdose deaths are up 22% from 2015 alone, fentanyl deaths doubled. That’s not including the fact that cases are severely under counted, given the volume of fentanyl analogs in circulation right now. I previously reported on the report coming out of Ohio with 24 analogs & active metabolites being identified. That, combined with the increased cost in testing for analog substances, we’ve arrived at a place where medical staff have no idea how many chemicals they’re not testing for. How many rural communities are testing for acrylfentanyl or butyrylfentanyl? How many rural communities are seeing analogs that we don’t even know about yet? Communities along the migratory arc that fentanyl takes from China into Western Canada or Mexico into border communities, that see these substances first, are they still getting the same analogs, or is there already something new? At this point, it’s likely the unknown unknowns are already on the ground and slowly being consumed for the first time.

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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

Victory for the Little Guy! [Updates]

bm tm

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been following with keen interest a lawsuit in Canada. The plaintiff was Decommodification, LLC – a private company the founders set up, which owns all the Intellectual Property assets of Burning Man and is paid royalties by the Burning Man Project for their use. The defendants were Napalm Dragon and Burn BC – a Vancouver-based arts collective co-operative that has been participating in Burning Man and other burn events since the early 90’s.

Here is some of our previous coverage

Canada Draws Battle Lines for Burner Culture May 14

BURNILEAKS: Bullying the Burners Sep 14

Embattled Burners Ask for Support Sep 14

Help Canada Sep 14

South Bhak Oct 14

Quick Update from Canada Nov 14

Burn BC Admits Defeat in Battle for Public Domain Jan 15

The lawsuit saw some eye-brow raising moves from BMOrg, including a claim by founder Crimson Rose that she invented fire dancing.

A year ago, it seemed that BMOrg had won – Burn BC couldn’t raise enough money for a lawyer, and was forced into a default judgement.

Napalm Dragon explained how he was prevented from even mounting a defense in our Jan 2015 story Burn BC Admits Defeat:

A couple of months ago the Lawyers for Decommodification LLC (The new American Corporation that now owns the American Burning Man Trademark) blocked Burn BC from defending itself.

They would not allow the directors of Burn BC to submit a defence, suppressing a very lengthy defence I’d put together for the organisation.

(I was hospitalised with a major panic attack from the stress of dealing with this).

The judge gave 30 days for Burn BC to find a lawyer. If Burn BC could have found a lawyer, we have mountains of evidence that could have easily defended Burn BC.

So without a lawyer, the flimsy claims against Burn BC went to default judgement. Without a reasonable defence for Burn BC, the Judge was forced to rule based on weak claims by the plaintiff.

Decommodification LLC didn’t just stop at $10,000 plus $25,000, they also wanted the Burn BC website. There’s NO need for the website.

The Judge ruled $10,000 damages (based on one sided claims, and no defence), and turning over our Burn BC website to Decommodification LLC. I can’t blame the judge, he had limited information, and Burn BC was completely unable to defend itself.

The judge ordered them to cease using the trademark, they agreed – so BMOrg got what they want, right?

It seems this small victory wasn’t enough. Decommodification LLC – apparently using the Burning Man Project’s extensive legal resources – had to burn the villages too. They pursued Napalm Dragon personally for damages. No matter that the guy has no money, and they take in $32 million a year. He needed to be taught a lesson, publicly shamed, ruined. How dare he be throwing burns and contributing to the community for 20+ years! How dare he try to defend himself against outrageous claims and character attacks! Destroy! Exterminate! Humiliate!

Well, karma can be a bitch: it looks like this strategy backfired. Since Decommodification LLC was going directly after Napalm Dragon personally, he was able to represent himself in court without a lawyer, something which was not possible the way the original case had been structured. It seems the Court did what courts do, looked at the facts, looked at the history, heard the arguments from both sides, and made a ruling based on the law – resulting in a total defeat for the American Decommodification company, and vindication for Canadian Burn BC.

Here is Napalm Dragon’s initial report on his victory:

Burn BC Founder and Champion of Burner Rights, Bhak Jolicouer

Burn BC Founder and Champion of Burner Rights, Bhak Jolicouer

The final paperwork came back today.
I WON!!!
I ROASTED the lawyer, and he caved. He very literally cowered before the courts.

The Burn BC Arts Cooperative is alive and well, I am in the clear, and I forced Decommodification LLC to, not only back off of me, but to leave me alone and relinquish any attempted claims to otherwise very important sacred cultural domain I’ve been intimately involved with for over 20 years.

I briefly thought about going all the way with it; pushing “Burning Man” finally and completely (and undoubtedly) back into the Public Domain where it is and belongs (and could have without a lawyer). I was very literally one Court Motion away from doing it.

But, instead I roasted the Lawyer, and demanded respect, and demanded some clear terms, and got EXACTLY what I wanted and had declared for over a decade.

I was able to do this because Decommodification LLC was not satisfied with destroying Burn BC by forcing it into an undefended default judgement and just leaving me alone.

No, the vengeance of one greedy sadistic and highly duplicitous and domineering woman, and her asinine arrogance, nearly led to her complete downfall by one punk from Canada and his little prank.

[Metaphorically speaking] I had her, and her entire plot by the balls, I squeezed tightly to get her attention, then said “Leave me the F**K alone, I am free to do and say what I please, and if you push me any further you lose every exaggerated claim”.

When Decommodification LLC came after me personally they screwed up. They gave me the opportunity to finally defend myself; and when this finally came before the courts, I completely ROASTED the lawyer. He was very literally cowering before the “judge”, and went pale.

All the egregious demands disappeared.

I then turned it around and said (metaphorically) “This is what’s going to happen, and this is what you are going to do.”

So now it’s done and I’m moving on, and I am free to do and say what I please; as has ALWAYS been my right, as an Artist, Prankster, Empresario, and Sacred Clown.

F**** You!!!…and your Burning Man too.
Keep that dead lie far away from me, and anyone I love.

Now I can finally get back to what I really want to do before this giant stinking pile of bull dung distracted me.

BMOrg have not had their Propaganda-spun statements tested in a court very often. There were a couple of big cases in 2007. Founder John Law tried to keep the Burning Man name in the public domain for all Burners to use, saying “If Burning Man is really a movement, the name should belong to everyone, not three guys who don’t get along anymore”. Although the case got a lot of media attention, and raised the hopes of many Burners, it was settled for an undisclosed sum before going to trial. In the Paul Addis arson trial, BMOrg controversially provided muddled information that ensured a mischievous prank in the Cacophonist spirit was treated as a terrible, malicious felony. Addis got jail time, lost his legal career, then became yet another Burner whose exit from this “movement” was a horrific public suicide.

I asked Napalm Dragon if he had any further comments for Burners.me readers. He said:

I want nothing to do with Marian Goodell or her “Contractually Obliged Brand Cult”.
Anyone who “volunteers” for any project, group, or event, “controlled directly or indirectly by Decommodification LLC” through the use of the so called trademark “Burning Man™” is being taken for a ride by a private American corporation that wants to join the Billionaires Club on the backs of the wide eyed and naive, lost in a labyrinth of past relevance.

The last Great Cultural Emergence of the 20th Century is moving on, leaving behind an empty calcified echo of a spectacle.
The culture created Burning Man; “Burning Man™” did not create the culture.
There is no longer a home for the culture under this so called trademark “Burning Man™”.

When it comes to Burners.me, know that I forced Decommodification LLC to agree to make no claim to “The Burn”. SO the culture has a place to go, freely, and of its own free will and accord, and it’s beyond the reach of Decommodification LLC. (IN WRITING).

Fuck “Burning Man™”, that term missed its opportunity to have a profound, respectful, and positive relationship with relevance, and instead chose to suffocate an agonising and slow retreat into obscurity.

When Decommodification LLC went after me personally, the lawyers could not block me from defending myself (like they did with Burn BC)
I waited for someone who understood the significance of this to hand me a lawyer, and when it didn’t materialise. I played my cards wisely.

Unable to block me from defending myself, I decided to turn it in my favour and completely roasted the lawyer before the Canadian Federal Courts. All the egregious demands faded in the presence of the courts.

I protected some sacred terms, protected Burn BC, and protected myself.
I’m bowing out of this stinking saga with this last prank; and letting Marian Goodell and her American Corporation Decommodification LLC fester in the pursuit of a meaningless trademark in Canada.

Anyone is free to oppose the application with CIPO, I will not be participating in any opposition.
I’ve lost interest. I have nothing but disdain for Decommodification LLC and the words “Burning Man™”.

I’m now going to take some time to consider the most epic prank of my life, and think about the love of my son, and the love of my wife, and our rights to be the creative people we are; unfettered by the looming shadow of a “Contractually Obliged Brand Cult”, or the American Corporation that claims to control it.

I was right all along, and I feel at peace with a clear conscience.
I hope this prank offers some peace to Paul Addis, Caleb Schaber, and Howler (Rest well in your afterlife).

This is my parting gift to those I inadvertently led astray, and those who have inadvertently led us astray.
With Love,

Bhak Jolicoeur (AKA) Napalm Dragon
Avant-garde Artist, Impresario, Prankster, and Sacred Clown.
(Now, to get busy with the good stuff.)

Maybe now BMOrg will accept that Burners create this culture and event, not them. The point of Burning Man, and burns in general, is to create a temporary city together for entertainment –  not to cook everybody’s souls using a cauldron called The Devil so they have a Transformational Experience™. The culture has been developed from the bottom-up, grass roots if you like. Replacing it with top-down legal control from a tax-exempt entity and a board of 1%-ers is not going to make our culture flourish for the next hundred years under their Burning Man™ corporate banner.


[Update 1/14/16 1:29pm PST]

Napalm Dragon wanted us to be clear that Burn BC is a co-operative, not a collective. Sorry about that!

He also points out that the owners of Decommodification LLC, mostly are in no ways the founders of the Burning Man event. He has a good point: Larry Harvey is the only one of the 6 who was at the first one; Michael Mikel the only other one who was there at the Beach and Desert; Crimson Rose and Harley Dubois came to the second desert event, Will Roger arrived in 1994 and Marian Goodell 1995. Black Rock City LLC was incorporated in 1997, after the disastrous Helco burn.

Are the 6 owners of Decommodification, LLC, the same as these 6 “Founders”?

Again, it looks like Napalm Dragon is right. We don’t know very much about this private company. It was spun off before the donation to the non-profit, and the main assets of the business were transferred to it. Supposedly, the “6 Founders” each have an equal share, and have to unanimously vote against a transfer to the Burning Man Project in 2018 to stop it. Does it earn royalties from the Spark movie, the newspaper photo rights, music soundtracks, art sales, or anything else? Or does it simply get $75k per year from the Burning Man Project, and nothing else – everything else goes to Burning Man? We don’t know, and I’d love to think it was the latter – but if so why don’t they just be transparent about it? Why are we only going to find out what is going on with all these LLCs and assets and inter-group relations AFTER many years?

Here’s the official story, as of about a month ago:

Screenshot 2016-01-14 14.10.32

Here’s what Corporation Wiki says:

Screenshot 2016-01-14 12.33.06

 

Doug Robertson is listed in the Burning Man Project IRS Form 990 as the organization’s CFO. Ray Allen is the Burning Man Project’s in-house General Counsel. Nanci Elliot is better known by her alias Crimson Rose.

Screenshot 2016-01-14 12.59.32

The address listed here in 3rd street is also associated with Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, and Tomas McCabe. From CorporationWiki:

Screenshot 2016-01-14 13.43.25

 

Justia lists trademarks owned by Decommodifcation, LLC. Interestingly, the Ranger logo is here, but the name Burning Man and the regular )'( dude are not.

 

Screenshot 2016-01-14 12.54.57

Trademarkia only has one trademark associated with Burning Man: the main one, which proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that Burning Man is a festival. It was last renewed in 2014, with Decommodification, LLC as owner.

Screenshot 2016-01-14 12.57.05

Of course, “organizing community festivals featuring…live music, art displays, and participatory games; conducting entertainment exhibitions” is not even remotely close to Live Entertainment – what are they smoking in Nevada?

Bizstanding lists Larry, Marian, and Harley as the three “Managing Members” of Decommodification LLC. It also lists Brooke Oliver, who claims to have been the legal architect of Burning Man’s non-profit transition.

Screenshot 2016-01-14 13.56.02

 

 

Where’s Will, where’s Danger Ranger? Both of those guys only got paid $70k or so in 2014. Why’s that?

Did donation money given by Burners to support art projects end up going to this lawsuit in Canada? Or did Decommodification, LLC pay for it?

I don’t expect we’ll hear answers to these questions – although it would be a lovely surprise if we do. Simply to ask them, doesn’t make me a “conspiracy theorist”. They are quite reasonable questions, the kind of thing I would ask any $30 million non-profit that wanted me to give them money.


Napalm Dragon has cemented his place in Burner history, along with other eclectic and eccentric figures like Chicken John, Paul Addis, John Law, Caleb Schaber, and (IMHO) myself, who have risked a lot simply to fight for what’s right. A movement that came from a community, not a corporation.

Bhak reached out to the community to help raise funds to get a lawyer. They raised $1650, he wants to wish a big thanks to everyone who donated. If more Burners had stepped up in support, perhaps “Burning Man” might be a free term in Canada today.

The idea that BMOrg need to protect the Burning Man name from anyone else ever using it because people might get confused is kind of ludicrous in 2016, when it’s on Oprah and The Simpsons. Dude. We get it. It’s BURNING MAN™. A name that is now MASSIVELY COMMODIFIED after years of saturation promotion in mainstream media. You need these lawsuits because people might sell t-shirts, really? There are 30,000 merchants on Etsy selling Burning Man products and nearly 8,000 on eBay. Let’s stop kidding ourselves, stop pretending that this is somehow “against Burning Man” or “ruining Burning Man”. This event was built on selling t-shirts. If anything, it’s the “hey it’s cool if we jump the shark, we want new people anyway, doesn’t matter if they’re self-reliant or participants” attitude that is “ruining Burning Man”.

burning man 98 tshirt list

We want to go to officially sanctioned events that are based on the Ten Principles. So why not enable thousands of those around the world, get royalties from all of the franchises, donate generously to art and the environment, and really see if we can make a difference with this culture? Take the royalty money from the 30,000 Etsy vendors, and use it to do some good?

They have enough Burners for that…but do they have enough lawyers? It seems to me that is what is holding our growth back the most right now.

Why is “Burning Man: The Board Game” (free, made by 20-years Burners to entertain other Burners) bad, but “Burning Man: The Musical“, (commercial, by a Google employee who’s never been to Burning Man) good?

Why does Decommodification, LLC feel it has to own Decommodification Itself? What would be the point of that, in a temporary company created only to safeguard Burning Man’s brands for a couple of years? 

Here is Napalm Dragon’s Christmas Day message (and Gift) to those of us who did support him.

2279639_1451186923.317_updates

I submit this with a heavy heart.

Yet, I submit this with a burden released from my conscience, after enduring a long, distressing, and frivolous process.

Signed on the longest night of the year (December 21), in sacred concert with the ages, I part ways with the empty spectacle, and protect the integrity of a sacred domain of the arts, and the ancient rites.

My signature ends an era of open cultural relationships with what was once the most relevant cultural event of the 20th century; made relevant by the gathering tribes of the last great cultural emergence of the 20th century.

Until December 21, 2015 I held in my hand the last flickering flame of the Original Burning Man Culture that created the event, created the city, and created the communities.

We created Burning Man.
Burning Man did not create us.
This is the truth, and the truth has set me free.

My submission today, and my signature on this document ends the name of our culture. It ends our relationship with the secret American corporation (Decommodification LLC) that secretly makes questionable claims to what was once the public domain name of a culture, and the public domain iconography of a culture.

In Canada, this secret American Corporation (Decommodification LLC) will soon take control of a trademark based on our Public Domain Culture and Public Domain Iconography in order to steal control of what little remains of our independently developed communities.

I will not be taking part in any opposition to this, that window has passed for me. I held that window open and the loud cries of the vain were all that were heard.

I will not participate in this deceptive practice in any way, or with any organisation, group, or individuals who are blindly mislead by this contractually obliged brand cult.

Our culture and it’s association with what was once our name has lost all relevance. What remains is an illusion, a deception, a mere figment that exploits misconceptions.

What remains is not our culture.
It’s the synthesised echoes of how we express our culture.

It’s a calcified and degraded, proprietary facsimile of the expressions of our culture. It looks like culture, but it’s little more than the exploitation of those of us seeking to connect with our culture.

Our Culture has moved on, and no longer exists within the domain of what Decommodification LLC vainly and arrogantly claims to control.

Pushed to the very brink, I stood next to justice with my back held straight against the wall of truth. I held to my convictions, my rights, my honour, and trusted in my faith that the truth prevails.

In the face of intimidation, being ostracised, slandered, my reputation all but destroyed, and my friends deceived, I stood by the truth and trusted in the power of justice to perceive the truth.

Very literally under the scrutiny of our Canadian judicial system, this deception and intimidation fell apart. What remained was a compromise.

I accepted this compromise and demanded concessions to this compromise that might respect my artistic rights, my integrity, my honour, and my self respect (the only things left to me in this fiasco)

I was failed by the very people who so grandiosely stand on the backs of the artists and declare themselves “the community”. These people loudly proclaimed to support my position, but did little to step up to “Radical Self Reliance”, and offer what mattered. Their words fell to the floor, the empty ashes of an illusion; those of us believing in this illusion vainly grasping at it.

Yet, despite my challenges, I faced the truth on my own accord, and the truth prevailed through the wise mediation of the honourable Prothonotary Milczynski.

I can now lay to rest this deplorable action by Decommodification LLC and move on with my life, as I asked before, and have asked many times before that.

The integrity of my culture now remains relativity intact by other means; holding back the looming shadow over our culture, and out of reach of this secret and deceptive corporation.

I have taken responsibility for my part in being mislead over the last 10 years, and inadvertently misleading others who respected my reputation and good will over the last 25 years.

I can now get on with my life with a clear conscience. My last gift to this community being the truth.

I submit my settlement agreement with a heavy heart, a clear conscience, and a clear perspective on the heinous actions that have transpired over the last 20 years.

I choose today (December 25th) to submit this document to the Plaintiff and the Courts, not as a gesture of good will, but as a reminder of what it really means to offer a gift to the world.

To remind the Plaintiff that a gift was offered to the world, and it was tossed aside like a dirty worthless bone.

I pick up that bone and bury it with grace and respect.

It was a sincere, heartfelt, gift to the community; something we (our culture) offered to the world. Something taken from us, perverted, and tossed away; then synthesized and sold back to our peers with the intent of making the profound; proprietary, mundane, and superficial; something to easily consume from the bucket list of past notoriety, a minor novelty exploiting the good will of vague references to an obfuscated past.

With this settlement, there is no going back.
It is done.

The desert has lost it’s last hope to be anything more than just a misguided, shameful and shallow expression of excess and delusional cultural exploitation; a spectacle cut off from the profound depths of an open culture.

It is no longer a maze of possibilities to transcend the madness, it’s a labyrinth of madness that has no exit.

It’s a culture trap.

A gift is something offered without obligation, and the obligations demanded by the Plaintiff throughout these proceedings with Burn BC and myself were deplorable. They were both egregious and vitriolic. They only served to destroy what remains of the beauty and grace we offered this Culture and Cultural Iconography, and the independent communities that have given (very literally) their love, and their lives to our culture.

Many of us have very literally given our lives to the gifts we offer to our community. We had no intention of giving our gifts to greedy, exploiting corporations. Many of us who could not face our complicit assistance to this deception committed suicide, or died by the symptomatic obfuscation that confuses the profound.

People took their lives, and have died for this culture.
– Caleb Shaber walked into his room in Gerlach Nevada and killed himself with a gun.
– Paul Addis threw himself in front of the San Francisco Bart Train.
– Hours after visiting with my wife and I in Austin Texas, a man went home and shot himself.
– Another close friend swam to his death, and drowned himself.
– Another hung himself in Vancouver.
– Others were murdered by a crazed gunman in Seattle.
– One man hung himself in the Nevada Desert.
– Another recently walked into the fires of an event in the United States.
– A famous CBC radio host died.
– A woman was killed while riding an Art Car.

People died for this culture and because of this deceptive cultural appropriation. These deaths are now empty, sad statements to the deceptive cultural appropriation this corporation has committed with absolute callous disregard for the very culture they claim to have created “from a ceremony on Baker Beach”.

My conscience weighed heavy, it is now clear, and I remember these lives with dignity as I move forward with the rest of my life.

I close this heinous chapter in disgust. I open a new chapter alleviated by taking responsibility. I move forward with a light and clear conscience to live with joy, share in charity, and love with honour, dignity, and respect.

I have fulfilled my obligations.

The intentions of our culture, and our lives, were to offer a gift to the world, and offer a gift to our communities by creating spaces for our communities to flourish unhindered by mediated consumerism, and the marketing exploitation that turns people into predictable products to be repackaged and sold back to us as a limited set of archetypes that we adhere to without question or Critical Thought.

The very foundation of our culture was deeply undermined in the name of pure greed. We were deceived, and as I faced the obfuscation that surrounds this deception, a most egregious realisation was revealed by this frivolous litigation.

It is no longer my concern, this is for others to contemplate.

I am irrevocably done with the words: Burning Man™

What has transpired here with this document I submit, and my signature, is no less than the “end of an era”, not because I have the power to end it, but because I’m willing to recognise the significance of this settlement agreement in relation to the dark shadow that looms over it.

I have been blessed to witness and participate in the last great cultural emergence of the 20th century which emerged around the world throughout the 90’s. It gave profound power and meaning to a name, and cultural iconography.

Now with the stroke of my pen, a cultural relevance is gone forever. It is truly the end of an era. This sad end forced by the unyielding and arrogantly uncompromisingly deceptive greed of one woman and her secret corporation.

When given the opportunity to share in an incredibly significant opportunity to continue respecting the independent nature of our cultural relationships; this was not only rejected, but crushed with brutal dominating vengeance; I realised that the best course of action was to walk away from possibly the most damaging relationship I have ever encountered.

Questionable claims were made by Decommodification LLC under frivolous litigation. There was no reason to waste the precious time of the courts.

The Burn BC Arts cooperative was prevented from defending itself; and even after the matter was clearly resolved, intimidation, and callous technicalities were exploited to undermine justice and force an undefended default judgement against Burn BC.

What remains is a lie, a deception of cultural proportions, a system of exploitation that sullies the very idea of the founding culture here in Canada that gave the last great cultural emergence of the 20th century its power and relevance, and opened a door to beauty, grace, kindness, and the sincerity of The Gift.

A gift is given without obligation. Yet under the guise of a gift, one greedy woman and her secret corporation have taken the greatest gift we could offer to the world, and turned it into a farce, a façade, a lie. She forced those of us afraid to challenge this injustice into obligations that robbed us of hope.

Twenty years of my life have been taken from me, exploited, and destroyed; My reputation ruined by slander, and blindness, and the rewriting of a profoundly beautiful history to wipe the truth from the pages of relevance in a vain and arrogant attempt to own a delusional messianic nightmare based on an outright lie.

My contributions to the history of my culture and my local community developed in British Columbia; and the real significance of it’s impact on the greater cultural evolution have been vainly and disrespectfully wiped from the history books, and replaced by a superficial lie.

I have nothing but disdain for Decommodification LLC (et al), and will never be party to it’s deplorable deception. I will not be party to the death of a once beautiful cultural relationship, and cultural relevance.

Yet, a compromise has been reached.

An agreement has been forged that protects the ancient rites from the delusional claws of this sadistic attempt to “own the exclusive rights to a culture”.

I hold hope in my heart, and feel at peace moving forward. After years of enduring the stunning realisations of what is happening, why it’s happening, and how it transpired, I have found a compromise that can let me live with my conscience cleared and in relative peace.

I can close this ugly chapter and concentrate on what matters. The love of my son, the love of my wife, and the unfettered joy we will have without the looming shadow of this American Corporation and it’s domineering, vengeful, and deceptive practices.

We are no longer party (in any way) to the cultural exploitation of this “contractually obliged brand cult”.

I leave you with this on Christmas Day, the day of The Gift, to remind Decommodification LLC of the vitriolic and divisive darkness they have spread under the guise of “gifting”, and the heavy conscience they must live with on what should be a day of peace, forgiveness, and kindness.

Before this transpired they were given the greatest opportunity to have a dignified and mutually respectful relationship with Canada.

They choose greed, and get the empty remains of the fading echo of the past. The greatest gift slipping through their fingers, greased by money, and replaced by ignorance.

Good bye forever to this deception.
Napalm Dragon
Avante-Garde Artist, Impresario, and Sacred Clown.

[Source: Gofundme]

 


[Update 1/14/16 2:00pm PST]

Anon wanted links to the court documents. Here’s one. If anyone else has any, please share.

Burn BC Admits Defeat In Battle For Public Domain

Image: Roger Luijten/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Roger Luijten/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The epic fight between Burners in Canada and the corporate conglomerate of Decommodifcation LLC, the Burning Man Project, and Black Rock City LLC (together trading as “Burning Man”) is over. The “800 thousand ton gorilla” won,  crushing the opposition who could not even afford a lawyer.


 

Napalm Dragon (source: Google+)

Burn BC is Dead
Burning Man’s Decommodification LLC kills Burn BC
Long story short.
I tried repeatedly to settle with them. They changed what we agreed to each time, and never provided my one request.

– A list of marks they own.

After we let it go, they threatens me with a Gag Order.
That I and Burn BC, or anyone who associates with us would…

– Never say anything disparaging.
– Never associate with or speak to Burners.
– Have to get written permission to file any future trademarks.
– Would never talk about this or assist anyone regarding this.
– Give them our websites
– admit they own these marks in Canada.
– turn over rights to my artwork.

I kindly told them to go fuck themselves….

So when I refused to sign away my rights, they killed Burn BC by preventing Burn BC from defending its rights in court.

A couple of months ago the Lawyers for Decommodification LLC (The new American Corporation that now owns the American Burning Man Trademark) blocked Burn BC from defending itself.

They would not allow the directors of Burn BC to submit a defence, suppressing a very lengthy defence I’d put together for the organisation.

(I was hospitalised with a major panic attack from the stress of dealing with this).

The judge gave 30 days for Burn BC to find a lawyer. If Burn BC could have found a lawyer, we have mountains of evidence that could have easily defended Burn BC.

So without a lawyer, the flimsy claims against Burn BC went to default judgement. Without a reasonable defence for Burn BC, the Judge was forced to rule based on weak claims by the plaintiff.

Decommodification LLC didn’t just stop at $10,000 plus $25,000, they also wanted the Burn BC website. There’s NO need for the website.

The Judge ruled $10,000 damages (based on one sided claims, and no defence), and turning over our Burn BC website to Decommodification LLC. I can’t blame the judge, he had limited information, and Burn BC was completely unable to defend itself.

So, it’s the end of an era for me.
Burn BC is dead.

I created Burn BC out of love and respect for my community in British Columbia, but shitty territorial assholes killed it.

Time for me to move onto something else I guess.

I’m glad there’s some resolution, and I’ve at least walked away with my integrity and self respect.

~ Napalm Dragon


Burners.Me:
You can read more of our previous coverage of the matter here:

Canada Draws Battle Lines for Burner Culture

Help Canada

BURNILEAKS: Bullying The Burners

Embattled Burners Ask Community for Support

Now that Decommodification, LLC has full control over the use of their commercial trademarks in Canada, what will this mean for Burner culture up North? Will it benefit, and flourish? Or will it stagnate, dead in the water with corporate sharks jumping all over it? Expect some panel discussions starring Burning Man’s founders, coming soon…

 

Quick Update from Canada

One of our readers asked us today on Facebook what was going on with the lawsuit between Decommodification, LLC, a for-profit US company which did not exist before 2010, who are trying to use the term “Burning Man” in Canada for money-making purposes; and Canadian arts collective BurnBC, who are fighting as best they can for usage of the term to remain free in the Public Domain in their country, where they argue it has been for at least 20 years.

Artist Napalm Dragon reports:

image: Napalm Dragon

image: Napalm Dragon

Not much to say right now.
The only thing that’s happened is that the judge is deciding if Burn BC can defend itself.
She’s going to make a decision at some point, (could be days or months).
If Burn BC is not allowed to self represent than Burn BC has 30 days to find a lawyer or it goes to default judgment.
Decommodification LLC has lowered “damages” to a lump sum payment of $2000.
I doubt they’ll ever see a penny.

So yeah. 

Nothing much to say other than Decommodification LLC is coming off like an arrogant bully pushing frivolous litigation through the courts to intimidate me into signing a ridiculous settlement agreement I will never agree to.

Sounds like Decommodification LLC have backed off a bit on their financial demands, but aren’t prepared to let this case go – even though they have finally got around to applying to register their trademark in the jurisdiction. Their application for a trademark has not been granted yet, and could still be opposed.

Napalm Dragon said recently on Ello:

lawsuit docs

Does this look like a reasonable attempt to reach a solution? Or corporate bullying?

What changed. What was the thing that took it out of the hypothetical and made it real.
The court case. www.gofundme.com/f8bo7g
The trademark wasn’t being used to protect “the community” it was being used to suppress it.
In the court documents, Decommodification LLC makes false claims, including that basically it owns all the Burning Man Communities.
A hypothetical possibility was made real by Federal Court Documents.
That’s what changed.

Since Decommodification/BMOrg are only seeking $2000 (down from an earlier claim of $40,000), money is not the objective – and neither is protecting the trademark, since they’ve now filed an application for it like they should’ve done in the beginning. So what is the point of continuing? To me it seems punitive, and somewhat petty. What is this lawsuit actually “protecting”? Who benefits? Who’s paying?

david-vs-goliathIf you want to help the little guy Burners against the corporate machine in this David vs Goliath battle, please support them here: Burning Man is Not A Commodity. Every little bit helps, no donation is too small.

Previous coverage of this story from Burners.Me:

Embattled Burners Ask Community For Support

Canada Draws Battle Lines For Burner Culture

Help Canada

Burnileaks: Bullying The Burners

South Bhak – Burning Man and South Park S18 Connection Again

Back In The Day