Sheriff Asks Org To Pony Up for More Money and Officers

The Pershing County Sheriff’s office have published their Post Mission Synopsis report for 2017. It’s reproduced at the end of this article, along with a couple of appendices – one which gives an idea of where incidents occurred, which some Burners may find interesting.

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen. Image: News4Nevada

There was some coverage of this story at the Reno Gazette Journal “Tensions rise between Burning Man and law enforcement, again”, but it’s light on details. We’ve re-blogged a more detailed story from the Lovelock Review Miner in this post. Huge thanks to our source for sending this in.

Some Highlights

Sheriff Allen agrees with me and the USPTO that it’s a festival.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen the size of the annual drug haul, something I’m sure many Burners have been curious about:

grams ounces pounds
marijuana > 639 22.82 1.43
psilocybin > 818 29.21 1.83
Ketamine > 120 4.29
Methamphetamine 13.5
Cocaine > 231 8.25
MDMA > 334 11.93
doses
LSD > 217

It’s interesting to see the population changes.

This is the essence of the Sheriff’s problems with the festival:

He brings up a specific incident where Burning Man didn’t want a particular person to attend a meeting, so they went straight to the Director in Washington DC rather than raising their objections with the Sheriff’s office.

One wonders who this objectionable individual was. Dan Love? Gene Siedlitz? CIA? DEA? FBI? CDC? Humboldt General?

The Sheriff is highly suspicious of the population numbers provided by the Org.

Later in the report he mentions that the gate count may not include all the people arriving via the airline and Burner Express bus. The numbers are key because peak population above 69,999 brings them to a higher payment level, from $240,000 to $275,000.

Reading further, we have BMorg employees wielding weapons in a car chase…

And an RV full of coke and a loaded gun in early entry:

We have already covered the arrest statistics 2017 Crime Scorecard, here is the summary:

“We continue to have negative enforcement” – is this police speak for laws are broken everywhere?

We wish Sheriff Allen luck in his quest to squeeze more money from the $45 million annual event. His requests seem pretty reasonable – the cost of one junket regional festival visit for one BMorg staffer – and his office has to deal with the consequences of Burning Man all year round, not just for a week.

Re-blogged from the Lovelock Review Miner:


Sheriff submits Burning Man budget request

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 1:00 AM

Sheriff Jerry Allen submitted his law enforcement budget for next month’s Burning Man while challenging county leaders to “dispose of” the agreement that restricts the budget. Allen is concerned that public safety is at risk due to inadequate county law enforcement at the event.

The 2013 Settlement Agreement between Pershing County and festival organizer Black Rock City, LLC, limits the private group’s payments to the county for law enforcement, criminal prosecution and other services impacted by the massive festival. The agreement sets the reimbursements according to festival attendance and law enforcement command status.

Allen limited his spending as required in the 10-year agreement. His budget request is based on a less desirable but lower cost “integrated” command with the BLM and this year’s expected attendance by 70,000 to 79,999 ticket-holders. The number still doesn’t include the thousands of staff, volunteers and contractors on playa for weeks before and after the nine day event.

With the population and inflation factored in, BRC’s $275,000 base payment pencils out to a total of $299,201.92 that should be paid to the county, according to Allen. Of that, $252,462.88 will cover payroll for up to 24 law enforcement officers and jail personnel plus supplies and permanent infrastructure needed during the event including CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) interface, body cameras, trailers and a possible air conditioning unit for off-duty personnel.

That leaves $46,738.74 left over for the county courts and administrative services needed for the event according to Allen’s budget request. Members of the county commission are reviewing the proposal and may vote to either approve or reject it at their next meeting on July 18.

Sheriff Allen also handed out his Post Mission Synopsis on the 2017 Burning Man event. The report explains why, in his opinion, the 2013 Settlement Agreement between Pershing County and BRC shortchanges county taxpayers and event participants.

“The Burning Man Festival has, for several years, far exceeded the resources of not only Pershing County, but the Law Enforcement resources of Northern Nevada as a whole. The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office has had to ‘contract’ with several different Law Enforcement Officers within the State to provide some semblance of law enforcement expected by the participants. This endeavor is becoming increasingly difficult to perform as the population of BRC continues to increase and the payment to Pershing County remains relatively stagnant.”

In 2019, the BLM may issue a ten-year Special Recreation Permit allowing the Black Rock City population to reach 100,000 including ticket-holders, staff, volunteers and contractors. As the festival grows, Allen says a sheriff’s deputy dedicated year-round to the event will be needed.

“This Festival has increased in magnitude to the extent that Pershing County should hire a Deputy to provide for planning, logistics and execution of the plan for this Festival as well as provide for continued investigations,” he said. “The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office continues to receive calls for service long after the active portion of the Festival has concluded.”
Property and personal crime reports after the event, including minor thefts and sexual assault, must be investigated even though the evidence has vanished along with the event, Allen said.

CRIME STATS

Allen’s written report was delivered long after the deadline specified in the 2013 agreement.

“The Sheriff shall, within fourteen days after the Event, provide an After-Action Report. If the information for the AAR is not yet available at that time, then the Sheriff shall provide the information as soon as it becomes available,” states the settlement agreement.

Allen said he’s been busy with important PCSO matters, such as the vacancies for two sheriff’s deputies, but he did comply with BRC’s request for crime statistics on citations, arrests and the “actual expenses incurred in connection to the event” during the 2017 Burning Man event.

Allen’s report lists 57 arrests at the 2017 festival, an increase of 11 arrests from the 2016 event. Burners were arrested for FTA (failure to appear) warrants, sexual assault, domestic battery, possession of illegal controlled substances and trespassing.

There was a total of 125 misdemeanor citations for assault, battery, reckless driving with 121 of those citations for minor illegal drug possession “not amounting to sales or trafficking.”

Drugs seized by the PCSO at the 2017 festival included more than 639 grams of marijuana, 818 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, over 120 grams of ketamine, 13.5 grams of methamphetamine, more than 231 grams of cocaine, over 334 grams of MDMA and more than 217 doses of LSD.

POPULATION IN DOUBT

Allen says he’s skeptical of Black Rock City’s daily population reports issued electronically by Ticket Fly. The number of ticket-holders is restricted by the BLM’s Special Recreation Permit.

“I am highly suspicious of these population numbers as there is no independent verification or audit system in place to perform a quality control check,” Allen says. “From previous Festivals, it appears to the naked eye, as if BRC is well beyond the reported numbers, but at this time there is no way to verify this…There is no reason for BRC to report any number above 70,000 paid participants, due to possible consequences from both PCSO and the BLM.”

Allen said the peak population reported at one point in the 2017 event was above the permitted level of 79,000 and, as a result, Pershing County should be paid more money for the event.

“It is my recommendation that the Pershing County Board of Commissioners submit a bill to BRC for the additional $35,000 plus CPI (Consumer Price Index) for the additional monies as outlined in the 2013 Settlement Agreement,” Allen said in his synopsis.

 

GUN CONTROL

Firearms are not allowed inside the festival by BRC or BLM but, in 2017, a loaded rifle was discovered during set-up and four days before the gates opened, Allen said. The weapon was found in a motorhome where a large amount of cocaine was also discovered by BLM officers. The vehicle had supposedly been searched for weapons and drugs by BRC gate personnel.

“We were contacted by BLM to assist with a traffic stop,” Allen states. “While we were on scene, a rifle was also found with a round in the chamber. This vehicle was allowed into the Festival early as a part of an agreement between BRC and BLM to allow ‘early entry’ participants to assist in setting up the city’s many amenities and large art structures.”

For Allen, the incident indicates that more county law enforcement is needed before and after the event and BRC should hire professional gatekeepers to search for weapons and drugs.

“These types of incidents could also be remedied by requiring BRC to hire an independent company to provide for proper screening of persons and vehicles,” Allen states in his report.

In 2017, a brush fire south of Gerlach created a potential crisis when it forced temporary closure of Highway 447, the primary ground emergency access into and out of the Burning Man area.

“The closing of Hwy 447 shut off the main artery to get people off the playa in the event of an emergency or evacuation,” Allen says. “It also had the potential to significantly delay or stop necessary resources from reaching the playa in case of an emergency.”

Allen said a permanent mountaintop repeater is needed for communications between the PCSO in Lovelock and sheriff’s deputies on playa and, in case of a major emergency at the event, inter-agency radio communication needs improvement between PCSO, BLM, NHP and WCSO.

Funding is needed for “a minimum of 40 Deputies per shift” according to Allen. He also suggested that Pershing County and BRC “dispose of the 2013 Settlement Agreement” and work out a new agreement or adopt a cost-recovery system such as that used by the BLM.

BEHIND THE SCENES

In his synopsis, Allen revealed some of the sources of ongoing tension between the PCSO and BRC. Planning for the event requires numerous meetings throughout the year between various agencies including the PCSO, BLM, BRC, NHP and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. One meeting was cancelled after it started due to what BRC considered an unwelcome participant.

“Planning became very difficult however, when a scheduled meeting was cancelled at the last minute (after the meeting was to have started) by representatives of BRC due to one invitee BRC did not approve of,” Allen states. “This issue was taken by BRC to the BLM director level in Washington D.C. without first attempting to rectify this situation locally and reschedule the meeting. This action further strained the tenuous relationship between BRC and PCSO.”

Allen said local BLM and BRC officials with decision-making authority would expedite the planning process and planning meetings should take place in the county that hosts the event.

“I would offer a suggestion to have all Cooperators meetings in the Lovelock area, since Pershing County is the County in which this Festival actually takes place. This would allow for more participation from other Pershing County entities which are vital for this Festival to operate,” Allen says in his synopsis. “It would be nice to have BRC become accustomed to the area as well as the resources available within Pershing County.”


Here is Sheriff Jerry Allen’s report.

PCSO 2017 Burning Man PMS without Apendixs
Apendix B Cases PCSO 2017 PMS
Apendix D graphs PCSO 2017 PMS
Apendix D Drugs grams PCSO 2017 PMS

 

DPW vs The Org: Labor Relations Board Ruling

Towards the end of last year, we heard about a big case – one that dealt with issues that Burners who create Black Rock City have had for many years with the organization that collects the money and *ahem* saves it for future roadworks. Here’s a similarly themed protest from 2007:

It doesn’t seem like things have changed much in 11 years. BMorg’s attitude seems to always have been “DPW are volunteers, they can leave any time they want, they should be grateful we give them some food and money and social cachet”.

So what happened with this case?

The only media coverage I saw was in the Reno Gazette-Journal, first from 10-year volunteer Jessica Reeder:

In 2014, it all changed. The event was growing faster than the crew. The work got too hard, the days too long, and collectively, many of the crew realized we wanted to “gift” a little less of our sanity and health. A member of my crew started organizing for labor rights.

Burning Man, to its credit, improved working conditions somewhat. It started feeding laborers for the full season, for example, and instituted a transparent structure for those who do get paychecks. However, the company still “encourages volunteerism,”  asks workers to camp in the dirt for months — and last year, fired the crew member who was suggesting we unionize.

My coworker took his case to the National Labor Relations Board. In a settlement last month, Burning Man compensated him for lost wages, and notified the entire workforce of their right to fair treatment under the law. That’s not an admission of guilt, but it also doesn’t indicate innocence. My coworker was not the first to agitate for better working conditions; and whether it’s coincidental or not, the people who complained did not tend to keep their jobs.

It’s shocking to consider that Burning Man, a people-oriented nonprofit, would do anything other than invest in the health and happiness of its workforce. As a company whose strength is its people, I hope Burning Man will take the lead in treating its crew like a valuable resource, instead of continuing to expect them to “gift” their own lives and well-being.

[Source]

The story is not exactly critical of BMorg. Still, it was quickly followed up by another op-ed in the same paper by Joanne Fahnestock

I’m not sure where to begin in my response to Jessica Reeder’s column about Burning Man doing right by its volunteers (“Is 2018 the year Burning Man starts doing right by its workers?,” Jan. 14.)

The obvious first would be: What is the National Labor Relations Board doing getting involved with a volunteer? “Volunteer” says it all. You do not get paid and you can leave whenever you want. If someone wants to change that, it certainly should not occur while you’re accepting the position of volunteer worker.

I agree, the conditions at Burning Man are brutal — hot during the day, cold at night and windy and dusty all the time. You bring your own food, shelter and water. This is all made very clear at the start.

And if it was not clear to you when you signed up, it would be apparent as soon as you got there. You can leave at any time. There is no contract, no obligation. You stay or
you don’t.

One of the 10 principles of Burning Man is gifting time, energy, money, kindness. And it does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value. Clearly this is a misunderstood principle that neither the workers who filed the complaint, the ones trying to organize or the National Labor Relations Board comprehend.

I have been going to Burning Man for over 10 years and I gift my time. I do not expect anything in return. It is an experience I cannot begin to describe to anyone who has not been there. I expect nothing from the Burning Man Organization. I get so much more than they could possibly give me in dollars.

And when I choose to no longer go to Burning Man, I won’t go.

Doing the right thing is living by the 10 principles. Some are easier than others, but they are always voluntary.

[Source]

I wonder if this preachy person has any idea what it is like in the weeks and months leading up to Burning Man, building Black Rock City. Burning Man is hard enough with free pancakes and carcass washing, spare a thought for the people that are laboring long days in the sun and dust constructing things without any of that infrastructure being available to them.

There were no comments to either of these stories, although the case did draw some commentary from long-time Carson City critic Guy W Farmer. There were a few complaints about the obvious shill story on Reddit:

[Source]

There is some further discussion at this other r/BurningMan thread about the class divide between paid and unpaid workers and the rich tech bro clientele putting $12 million cash in the Org’s bank.

Jessica Reeder’s original story links to the National Labor Relations Board case information, which doesn’t shed much light:

Screenshot 2018-07-17 15.03.35

BMorg retained a notorious union-busting law firm to represent them against their worker.

I followed the instructions to obtain a copy through the FOIA system. Personal Identifying Information has been redacted by the government.

The plaintiff charges that they were dismissed for (1)discussing and (2)protesting their pay and working conditions.

In the settlement agreement, Burning Man did not acknowledge that they had violated the National Labor Relations Act, but paid the employee in full.

The key finding is that DPW have the right to unionize, and BMorg has been forced to inform all its (200) workers of that.

So there you have it. They will “not refuse to rehire” anyone who complains about working conditions. At least, that’s what they say. YMMV.

Here’s the full documentation:

NLRB-2018-000431_Responsive_Records_Redacted_FINAL

NLRB-2018-000431_Responsive_Records_Redacted_FINAL

How To Deal With Cops At Burning Man: 2017

A guest post from Mark Atwood


How to deal with cops at Burning Man (2017 update)

by Mark Atwood

(Feel free to print out, share, and repost. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. I am not a lawyer. This document is not legal advice. If you are ticketed, cited, or arrested, consult with an attorney. )

* Do not consent to a search.

Never consent to a search. Say the phrase “I do not consent to a search.”

The cops are trained to make you flustered and to “take command” of the situation. Or they can be “polite”: “Mind if we take a look around?” Yes, you mind. “I do not consent to a search.”

Even if you have nothing for them to find, always say “I do not consent to a search.”

Never consent to a search of your body, of your clothing, of your possessions, of your car, of your truck, of your trailer, of your RV, of your tent, or of your camp. You especially never consent to the search of anyone else’s property.

They can ask the other people in your group or in your car, not just the driver or leader. “Mind if we take a look?” You should all sing the same song: “I do not consent to a search.”

Even if they threaten you with arrest or if threaten to bring a sniffing dog, continue to say “I do not consent to a search”. Even while they are searching you or your stuff, continue to say it. “I do not consent to a search”.

* Being Questioned.

Cops can ask you questions.

They may say things like “We’re just talking”, or “What do you think of …?”, or “Can you help us out?”

You do not have to answer their questions, and probably shouldn’t.

They can ask you where your camp is, and who you are camping with. You don’t have to answer them, and you probably shouldn’t.

* Recreational drugs.

Never answer any questions about recreational drugs.

Remember, you never take drugs, you never carry drugs, you never supply drugs, you have no idea where to get drugs, you do not want any drugs, and you do not know anyone who does is the basics in learning how to deal with cops and how to get a job.

That includes cannabis in any form, in any amount. Cannabis is still not legal on BLM land, even for medical use. Having a medical card from any state is not a defense. The new Nevada personal use possession law is not a defense.

If you have a legal prescription to a Schedule II drug such as Adderall, Ritalin, OxyContin, and/or Methadone, keep your pills in their correct prescription bottle and locked somewhere safe. You can be charged if you cannot prove you have a legal prescription.

* Do not lead them to your camp.

They may try to make you lead them to your camp.

They can be very commanding and matter of fact about it. They may say “We are going to your camp.” They will make it sound as if you have no choice. You do have a choice, and you are going to chose to not to lead them to your camp. Never lead them to your camp.

If they really really insist on you leading them somewhere, then lead them to a Black Rock Ranger outpost.

* Keep your tent closed.

Always zip your tent closed when you are not in it. If possible, use screens or sheets to block transparent window screens, so there is no line of sight into your tent. You may want to use a luggage lock to lock the zipper of your tent when you are not in it.

If your tent is zipped shut, they are supposed to need a warrant to open it, or they are supposed to need your consent. They probably won’t have a warrant, and you are not going to give them your consent, remember? “I do not consent to a search.”

* Your name and your ID.

If they ever stop you, you do have to tell them your correct “wallet name” as it is printed on your official ID. Cops are uninterested in arguments about “dead names”. Tell them your name as it is printed on your official ID, driver’s license, or passport. You do not have to show them your ID if they ask to see it. You especially do not have to go to your camp to get your ID for them.

If you are a not a US citizen and are visiting on a visa waiver program, you do not have to carry your passport with you. If you are a resident alien on a visa (e.g. you have a “green card”), you do have to carry your green card with you. Sorry about that.

* Being Detained, or “Am I free to go?”.

The magic phrase is: “Am I free to go?”

Keep saying it. As soon as they say “yes”, walk away immediately and without another word. Do not run, just walk.

If they write you a ticket, you must take it. Put it in your pocket, and then you say “Am I free to go?”

If they ever say you are not free to go, you say “Am I being arrested?”. If they say “no you are not being arrested”, you say again “Am I free to go?”. Keep it up as many times as necessary. Yes, it will sound like a stupid kid game, like “stop copying me”, but the game is very real with very real stakes, and this is their game to win, and yours to lose.

* Being Arrested.

If they ever say anything like “you are under arrest”, or ever do anything to make you think you are being arrested, such as them restraining you in any way, you must immediately say the following magic phrase (memorize it!): “I do not consent to any search. I hereby invoke my right to remain silent. I want to speak to my attorney.” And then you SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Do not say anything at all about your arrest or why you may have been arrested until you are talking in private with your attorney. Not with those cops, not with any other cops, not with any onlookers, not with anyone else who was arrested, not with anyone who is being held with you. Not even with your campmates, or with your friends, or even with your family. Even your spouse. Assume the police cars, transport vans, and holding cells are bugged. Assume the cops will lie about what you say to them. Assume everyone you meet from when you are arrested to when you are released will testify against you and will lie about what you say to them. You invoked your right to remain silent. Now use it.

* Alcohol.

The camps with open bars that are giving away booze may ask to see your ID to verify you are older than 21. You don’t have to show it to them, but they don’t have to give you free booze either, and they probably won’t, fearing a bust.

The state liquor cops will be there trying to bust your camp with stings. If you are giving away booze, even if it’s only beer or wine, and the person you are about to give it to looks like they could possibly be under 21, you should verify their age by checking their ID.

Even if your camp is not running a public bar, random people will walk into your camp and ask for booze. You will almost certainly have an under-21 plainclothes liquor cop walk into your camp at least once during the week, trying to sting you. Be aware, an alcohol service bust is an expensive way to ruin your burn for your entire camp.

And even if the person asking for a free drink is not a cop, it’s rude and against the burner ethos to beg for a gift.

* Who Watches the Watchmen?

While the cops are dealing with you, you need to be memorizing the color and design of their uniforms, and if you can, memorizing their name tags. They are supposed to be wearing visible name tags while in uniform. Yeah, right.

As soon as you get away from the cops, go to Center Camp, or to a Black Rock Ranger outpost, and fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form and turn it in.

If you personally with your own eyes see the cops detaining anyone, arresting anyone, or searching anyone or anything, it is an act of Civic Responsibility (Principle 7) and a Gift (Principle 2) to Participate (Principle 9) in the burner community to memorize what you can, and then fill out and turn in a Law Enforcement Feedback Form as soon as you can.

* Your camera.

When you see the cops, you may choose to use your camera to record them. The judiciary at all levels has clearly stated that everyone, including you, has the right to record the police, as long as you don’t physically obstruct them. Cops hate it, but too bad.

If the cops tell you to turn off your camera, don’t do it. If they threaten to arrest you for recording, keep recording.

They cannot lawfully order you to stop recording. They cannot lawfully order you or anyone else to delete photos or video. They cannot lawfully delete any photos or video themselves. If they do, they themselves are knowingly breaking the law, and that will be very useful in court.

If you ever see a cop order anyone to stop recording or to delete anything, make sure that goes on the Law Enforcement Feedback Form.

While you are recording them, never get in their way, and stay back at least 35 feet / 10 meters.

* “Undercover” cops.

The cops claim there are “very few” “undercover” cops at the event. This is a very carefully nuanced untruth.

There are cops at the event who are not “undercover” but instead are “plain clothes”. This means that instead of wearing uniforms or visible badges they are instead dressed up to look like burners.

They do not have to tell you they are cops when you ask them. You will not be able to “sense” that they are cops. Some of them have been doing this every year for more years than you have come to the event yourself.

People have been busted by a cop who was wearing only sparkles and a miniskirt.

If someone you do not know asks for drugs or offers to trade you anything for drugs, they are a cop. If you met them this year at this Burn, you do not know them.

If you met these two girls a few days ago looking at art out in deep playa, and they are really cute, and they went out dancing with you last night, and they just suggested that if you can supply some “favors”, you all can “party together” in your tent, they are cops. No, really, yes, she and her girlfriend both are cops, and her coworkers are eagerly standing by to ruin your whole year.

* What if I need “Police Services”?

What if you are lost? Or a camp mate is lost? Or your child is lost? Or you have found a lost child? Or you have found a someone who is injured or who is unable to take care of themselves? What if you are assaulted? What if something has been stolen? What if someone is hurt? What if you are really too high? What if you find someone who is dangerously out of sorts? What if you just can’t even?

Go to a BLACK ROCK RANGER or to an ESD VOLUNTEER. The Rangers or ESD will help deal with the situation, and if the cops are actually needed, the Rangers or ESD can summon the cops and can deal with the cops. If the cops are not needed, then the Rangers or ESD can summon the right help for you.

Know what the Black Rock Ranger uniform is, and how it’s different from the cop uniforms. Rangers wear khaki shirts and khaki hats with the Burning Man logo on their hats, and on their chests, and on their backs, and on their vehicles. ESD have yellow shirts that say “Emergency Services” on them.

Have a great Burn!

2016: How To Deal With Cops At Burning Man

PNN-190-Burning-Man-Police-State-600x400

Some free advice from Mark Atwood, updated for this year. Last year there was a huge spike in arrests, including one for kidnapping. This is not legal advice, please consult an attorney to understand your legal rights at Burning Man – eg Lawyers For Burners


(Feel free to print out, share, and repost. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.)

How to deal with cops at Burning Man, (2016 update)
by Mark Atwood

Do not consent to a search.

Never consent to a search. Say the phrase “I do not consent to a search.”

The cops are trained to make you flustered and to “take command” of the situation. Or they can be “polite”: “Mind if we take a look around?” Yes, you mind. “I do not consent to a search.”

Even if you have nothing for them to find, ALWAYS say “I do not consent to a search.”

Never consent to a search of your body, of your clothing, of your possessions, of your car, of your truck, of your trailer, of your RV, of your tent, or of your camp. You especially never consent to the search of anyone else’s property.

They can ask the other people in your group or in your car, not just the driver or leader. “Mind if we take a look?” You should all sing the same song: “I do not consent to a search.”

Even if they threaten you with arrest or if threaten to bring a sniffing dog, continue to say “I do not consent to a search”. Even while they are searching you or your stuff, continue to say it. “I do not consent to a search”.

Being Questioned.

Cops can ask you questions.

They may say things like “We’re just talking”, or “What do you think of …?”, or “Can you help us out?”

You do not have to answer their questions, and probably shouldn’t.

They can ask you where your camp is, and who you are camping with.
You don’t have to answer them.

Never answer any questions about recreational drugs.

Never answer any questions about recreational drugs.

Remember, you never take drugs, you never carry drugs, you never supply drugs, you have no idea where to get drugs, you don’t want any drugs, and you don’t know anyone who does.

That includes cannabis in any form. Cannabis is still illegal on Federal land, even for medical use.

If you are a Nevada resident in November, remember to vote for the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

Don’t lead them to your camp.

They may try to get you to lead them to your camp.

They can be very commanding and matter of fact about it, they may say “We’re going to your camp.” They will make it sound as if you have no choice. You do have a choice, and you are going to chose to not to lead them to your camp. Never lead them to your camp.

If they really really insist on you leading them somewhere, then lead them to a Black Rock Ranger outpost.

Keep your tent closed.

Always zip your tent closed when you are not in it. If possible, use screens or sheets to block transparent window screens, so there is no line of sight into your tent. You may want to use a luggage lock to lock the zipper of your tent when you are not in it.

If your tent is zipped shut, they need a warrant to open it, or they need your consent. They probably won’t have a warrant, and you are not going to give them your consent, remember? “I do not consent to a search.”

Your name and your ID.

If they ever stop you, you do have to tell them your correct “wallet name” as it is printed on your official ID. Cops are deeply and profoundly uninterested in arguments about “dead names”. Tell them your name as it is printed on your official ID, driver’s license, or passport. You do not have to show them your ID if they ask to see it. You especially do not have to go to your camp to get your ID for them.

If you are a not a US citizen and are visiting on a visa waiver program, you do not have to carry your passport with you. If you are a resident alien on a visa (e.g. you have a “green card”), you do have to carry your green card with you. Sorry about that.

Being Detained, or “Am I free to go?”.

The magic phrase is: “Am I free to go?”

Keep saying it. As soon as they say “yes”, walk away immediately, swiftly, and without another word. Do not run, just walk.

If they write you a ticket, you must take it. Put it in your pocket, and then you say “Am I free to go?”

If they ever say you are not free to go, you say “Am I being arrested?”. If they say “no you are not being arrested”, you say again “Am I free to go?”. Keep it up as many times as necessary. Yes, it will sound like a stupid kid game, like “stop copying me”, but the game is very real with very real stakes, and this is their game to win, and yours to lose.

 

Being Arrested.

If they ever say anything like “you are under arrest”, or ever do anything to make you think you are being arrested, such as them restraining you in any way, you must immediately say the following magic phrase (memorize it!): “I do not consent to any search. I hereby invoke my right to remain silent. I want to speak to my attorney.” And then you SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Do not say anything at all about your arrest or why you may have been arrested, until you are talking in private with your attorney. Not with those cops, not with any other cops, not with any onlookers, not with anyone else who was arrested, not with anyone who is being held with you. Not even with your campmates, or with your friends, or even with your family. Even your spouse. Assume the police car, transport van, and holding cells are bugged. Assume the cops will lie about what you tell them. Assume everyone else will testify against you. You invoked your right to remain silent. Now use it.

Alcohol.

The camps with open bars that are giving away booze may ask to see your ID to verify you are older than 21 years. You don’t have to show it to them, but they don’t have to give you free booze either, and they probably won’t, fearing a bust.

If you are giving away booze, including beer or wine, and the person you are about to give it to looks like they could possibly be under 21, you should verify their age by checking their ID. The state liquor cops will be there, trying to bust you with stings.

Even if your camp is not running a public bar, random people will in fact walk into your camp and ask for booze. You will almost certainly have an under-21 plainclothes liquor cop walk into your camp at least once during the week, trying to sting you. Be aware, an alcohol service bust is an expensive way to ruin your burn for your entire camp.

And even if the person asking for a free drink is not a cop, it’s rude and against the burner ethos to beg for a gift.

 

Who Watches the Watchmen?

While the cops are dealing with you, you need to be memorizing the color and design of their uniforms, and if you can, their nametags and their badge numbers. They are *supposed* to be wearing visible nametags. Yeah, right.

As soon as you get away from the cops, go to Center Camp, or to a Black Rock Ranger outpost, and fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form and turn it in.

If you personally with your own eyes see the cops detaining anyone, arresting anyone, or searching anyone or anything, it is an act of Civic Responsibility (Principle 7) and a Gift (Principle 2) to Participate (Principle 9) in the burner community to memorize what you can, and then fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form.

Your camera.

When you see the cops in action, you may choose use your camera to record them. The judiciary at all levels has clearly stated that everyone, including you, have the right to record the police, as long as you don’t physically obstruct them. Cops hate it, but too bad.

If the cops tell you to turn off your camera, don’t do it.

They cannot lawfully order you to stop recording, they cannot lawfully order you to delete photos or video, and they cannot themselves lawfully delete any photos or video. If they do any of these things, they themselves are knowingly breaking the law, and that will be very useful in court. If they threaten to arrest you for recording, keep recording.

If you ever see a cop order anyone to stop recording or to delete anything, make sure that goes on the Law Enforcement Feedback Form.

While you are recording them, never get in their way, and stay back 35 feet / 10 meters. That’s tazer range.

“Undercover” cops.

The cops claim there are “very few” “undercover” cops at Burning Man. This is a very carefully nuanced untruth.

This art car was revealed to us in 2013 by a whistleblower, as full of undercover cops.

This art car was revealed to us in 2013 by a whistleblower, as full of undercover cops.

There are cops at the event who are not “undercover”, but instead are “plain clothes”. This means that instead of wearing duty uniforms and visible badges, they are instead dressed up in costume to look like burners.

They do not have to tell you they are cops when you ask them. You will not be able to “sense” that they are cops, until they bust you. Some of them have been doing this every year for more years than you have come to Burning Man yourself.

People have been busted by a cop who was wearing only sparkles and a miniskirt.

If someone you do not know asks for drugs or offers to trade you anything for drugs, they are a cop. If you met them this year at this Burn, you do not know them.

If you met these two girls a few days ago looking at art out in deep playa, and they are really cute, and they went out dancing with you last night, and they just suggested that if you can supply some “favors”, you all can “party together” in your tent, they are cops. No, really, yes, she and her girlfriend both are cops, and her coworkers are standing by to ruin your whole year.

What if I need “Police Services”?

What if you are lost? Or a camp mate is lost? Or your child is lost? Or you have found a lost child? Or you have found a lost fellow burner who is injured or is unable to take care of themselves? What if you are assaulted? What if something has been stolen? What if someone is hurt? What if you are really too high? What if you just can’t even?

Go to a BLACK ROCK RANGER, or to a ESD volunteer or station, not to a cop. The Rangers or ESD will help deal with the situation, and if the cops are actually needed, the Rangers or ESD can summon them and can deal with them. If the cops are not needed, then the Rangers or ESD can summon the right help for you.

Know what the Black Rock Ranger uniform is, and how it’s different from the cop uniforms. Rangers wear khaki shirts and khaki hats with the Burning Man logo on their hats, on their chests, on their backs, and on their vehicles. ESD have yellow shirts that say “Emergency Services” on them.

Have a great Burn!

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