Media Rights and Responsibilities

Burning Man is a private event held on public land. As a participant or member of the media, you must be aware of your rights and responsibilities. Burning Man is committed to preserving the uniquely creative and noncommercial character of its culture. To that end, we ask all participants, including members of the media, to exercise and respect certain rights and responsibilities. Below you will find the following important information:

For any media-related questions, please contact press@burningman.org.

Personal vs. Professional Use

At Burning Man, you don’t have to be getting paid to be a Pro. “Professional Use Media” is used to describe pretty much any media project that is intended for public distribution.

Personal Use Media:
Burners are welcomed to use photos, videos, and audio recordings obtained at the event for their personal use, which includes:

  • Sharing with your friends and personal social media networks.
  • Displaying on personal websites—as long as the websites do not sell any products or services, and do not pretend or appear to be an official Burning Man website.
  • Posting to your personal accounts on photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr—as long as the posts aren’t commercial in any manner and the accounts aren’t used for purposeful promotion. You may not directly monetize any media through paywalls or advertisements.

Even if your images and videos are for Personal Use, you must read, understand, and follow the Photo & Video Rights and Responsibilities. Every burner with a camera has a responsibility to be respectful to the community and its members!

Professional Use Media:
If you wish to use any photo, video, or audio from the event for any non-personal use, you must apply as Professional Use Media for the Burning Man event. We require this registration process to protect the privacy and other rights of participants and to prevent commercial exploitation of Burning Man.

Non-personal use includes:

  • Publishing photos in a printed or online book, magazine, or newspaper.
  • Using footage in a professional quality video.
  • Displaying images on a non-personal website or in a gallery show.
  • Using imagery in a documentary or TV show.
  • Distributing media to any third-party group or publication. This includes offering photos for publication, or making any commercial or promotional use of event media.

A general rule of thumb for whether a use is non-personal: Is the event imagery being used for financial gain, OR being widely distributed beyond your personal network of friends and family? If either of these is true, please apply as Professional Use Media by contacting press@burningman.org. You are also responsible for obtaining clear and informed consent from the subjects in your photos. If your image violates the privacy or other rights of another participant, you should not display it in any public manner. If you did not pre-register as a professional shooter at the event, you may apply for permission later if you or someone else wishes to make non-personal use of your images. But you must obtain our written permission before the use is made.

To learn more about shooting for professional purposes (press, books, fine art, documentary film, etc.), visit Media at Black Rock City.

Photo & Video Rights and Responsibilities

  • You have the right to express yourself and create art as a photographer, videographer, and/or audio artist.
  • Unless you have prior written permission from Burning Man, you may only use photos, videos, or audio obtained at the event for personal use.
  • You are responsible for respecting the participants you wish to record and seeking their permission before photographing or filming them. If you are asked to stop filming, you must do so immediately. You have the responsibility not to interfere with the immediate experience of other participants.
  • The Burning Man symbol, the phrases “Burning Man” and “Black Rock City,” the design of the Burning Man (aka “the Man”), as well as other key city infrastructure are protected by trademark and/or copyright law. In keeping with the principle of Decommodification, these trademarks and copyrights may not be used for any commercial or third-party purposes without Burning Man’s written consent. Click here for more information on Burning Man’s approach to intellectual property.
  • Our Ticket Terms and Conditions cover our media policies in depth. By using your ticket to enter the event, you accept and agree to these policies. Failure to comply with these or any other media policies is grounds for eviction from the event and may bar entry in future years.

Professional Use Rights and Responsibilities

  • Anyone who plans to shoot video or photography at the Burning Man event for non-personal use must apply with Burning Man before filming and sign a professional use contract. “Non-personal use” means any use that is commercial and/or widely distributed beyond one’s personal network of friends and family. You can start the process here.
  • All members of the media—and anyone else who plans to make non-personal use of event imagery—must check in at Media Mecca upon arriving in Black Rock City.
  • If you fail to register or receive approval for your project, but you record event imagery for your project anyway, you are trespassing. Trespassers have no rights to any use of event imagery, and Burning Man reserves the right to take any necessary action against trespassers.
  • Professional use contracts are required to sell any imagery from the Burning Man event. We do not permit online sales, or the sale or distribution of photos or videos via stock agencies.
  • Before professional use contract holders can publish any event imagery, they must obtain written permission from an authorized member of Burning Man’s Communications Department. Such written permission may be subject to restrictions, including granting Burning Man a license to display your imagery in Burning Man communications.
  • Burning Man forbids the making of profit from the documentation of nudity at the event without the express written permission of the subjects and Burning Man.
  • You must use model releases for all recognizable individuals. We may ask for verification of these releases before granting permission to use an image or footage commercially.
  • The copyright of a design, written work, artwork, or performance is owned by the person or group who created it. You must ask permission before capturing such artwork and performances and obtain signed model/property license(s) or release(s) from all appropriate parties.

Media & Press FAQ

Q. What can I do with my photos or footage from Burning Man?

A. You can share them with your friends, family, and campmates. You can post them on a personal website or on your personal social networks, such as Flickr and Facebook. You can show them at a private party. You may also use photographs or footage taken at the event for your theme camp or art project fundraiser, as long as the project is intended as a gift for the Burning Man community in Black Rock City. You cannot post event photos or footage on a commercial website—including a business’s social network account—or a self-promotional portfolio website, nor can you sell them or place them on products for sale, such as prints or t-shirts.

If you want to share your imagery beyond your immediate network or with large audiences, or use your imagery professionally (such as editorially or in a book or film project), you will need to register with Burning Man. You may begin this process here.

Some common examples:

  • Posting images from the Burning Man event on the Facebook account or website for your theme camp or art project—OK!
  • Using video footage from the playa in connection with your theme camp’s Kickstarter campaign (if the funds will be used specifically for the camp’s operations in Black Rock City)—OK!
  • Selling or licensing images captured at Burning Man, or objects including such images—NOT OK!
  • Filming a music video for a band or DJ—NOT OK!
  • Staging fashion shoots or otherwise using images in advertisements or promotions for a company, product, or service—NOT OK!
Q: What can I do if someone uses my media or a picture of me without my permission?

A. The Burning Man Communications Team is here to help you! The best thing to do is to first contact the site or organization yourself and let them know that either your copyrighted work is being used without your permission or an image of you is being used without consent and is in violation of the Burning Man Media Policy. If that does not work or you don’t get a response, you can contact press@burningman.org with a link and information about the use of media. From there, Burning Man can assist you through a number of avenues, including reaching out to the site or organization with a comprehensive explanation of our media policy.

Q: How can Burning Man regulate media from the event?

A. Entering Black Rock City during Burning Man constitutes legal acceptance of Burning Man’s posted Terms and Conditions, including those regarding image use. The event is held on land leased from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Though the land is public property the rest of the year, the event permit designates the area as private/closed for the duration of the event, and a ticket is required to enter. This Closure Order means that Burning Man has the right to authorize or deny any photography, videography, or audio recording at the event, and to require—as a condition of entry into the event—that Burning Man’s permission be obtained prior to making certain uses of the resulting images or footage. The Photo & Video Rights and Responsibilities apply to both personal and professional use of event imagery—regardless of who is recording and why, the expectation of respect for the privacy and other rights of participants and artists remains the same.

Q. Does Burning Man own my photos/video/audio?

A. Burning Man shares copyright ownership of BRC media with the creator, and only for very specific reasons.  The Terms and Conditions provide for that shared ownership so that Burning Man has the ability to take action if someone uses your media inappropriately or if the media is in violation of our basic values of consent, privacy, and decommodification. Burning Man will never use your images or video without your permission or without giving you credit. Our policies exist so that we can protect your rights as an artist and the privacy of individuals in Black Rock City.

Q. Will I be filmed on the playa? Don’t they need my permission?

A. By entering an event like Burning Man, you agree to the possibility of being filmed once inside. We strongly encourage photographers and videographers—professional and novice alike—to ask before shooting, and most professionals will also carry model releases. In addition, professionals have a legally binding agreement with Burning Man to get case-by-case approval of anything they shoot before it is used commercially. For example, we do not approve pictures of nudity where the subject appears to be unaware of the camera.

Q. What if someone loves my personal photos or footage and suggests I enter a contest/gallery showing, or asks if they can use my imagery ion their website?

A. You may contact Burning Man to seek approval for these uses by emailing press@burningman.org.