Pershing County Lawsuit

Black Rock City, LLC and Pershing County reached a settlement of all issues of the lawsuit brought by BRC last year. The lawsuit was originally filed in August 2012 after the County applied its festival ordinance to BRC and voided prior settlement agreements with BRC. See the 2012 Legal AfterBurn for more details on the lawsuit. The settlement agreement spans ten years and is designed to cover all of Pershing County’s costs and impacts related to the Burning Man event, while also preserving participant freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The settlement agreement also incorporates all of the terms of the county’s opt-out provisions made possible by the Nevada State Legislature earlier this year, outlined below.

The Burning Man Bill: AB734

In June, Nevada State Legislature signed AB374 into law, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien that streamlines the permitting process for events like Burning Man held on federal lands. The bill passed unanimously in the Nevada Assembly and Senate and went into effect on July 1, 2013.

The new law gives counties the right to opt out of state permitting requirements for events held on federal land that already undergo a comprehensive federal permitting process. As a result of collaborative negotiations involving Burning Man representatives, Pershing County officials and the Nevada Association of Counties, Pershing County commissioners already passed a resolution exempting Burning Man from county permitting requirements in perpetuity based on the fact that the Bureau of Land Management’s comprehensive permitting scheme already addresses all of the issues that Pershing County’s festival ordinance regulates.

This bill reflects the hard work of so many collaborators, so the Legal Team would like to specifically thank Assembly David Bobzien, the entire Nevada Assembly & Senate, Governor Sandoval, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Tom Clark, Adam Belsky, Shannon Hogan, Pershing County, Nevada Association of Counties and so many others.


The Legal Department reviews and helps negotiate all contracts for every department of BRC. From insurance policies to water truck operators, the Legal Department is responsible for ensuring that all contracts are legally valid and culturally in line with the Ten Principles.

Intellectual Property

The Legal Team responds to Intellectual Property (IP) issues through the email alias We seek to regulate the use of the Burning Man trademarks and imagery, and to prevent unwanted commercial use, especially when such uses violate the privacy rights of participants, or the Ten Principles.

This is an area of the organization’s efforts that may not be widely understood. Though some are “outside world” violations from those seeking to exploit Burning Man, a great many trademark and copyright violations happen innocently within our own community—from well-intentioned Burners. Most incidents are the result of a misunderstanding of what a trademark is, what our copyright policies are, what “commercial use” means, or what Burning Man does and doesn’t regulate. We continue to examine how we can better express criteria and restrictions so that more violations can be avoided in the first place.

The IP Team engages in a year-round process of review, discussion, trademark enforcement, and monitoring intellectual property on behalf of Burning Man. The IP team works closely with legal staff and counsel; and together they determine what constitutes fair use.

Our approach almost always begins (and often ends) with a simple polite email notifying the person of the violation, which generally garners an immediate and equally polite response. The vast majority of IP issues are resolved with a friendly conversation, though on a rare occasion legal action is necessary.

Stay tuned to the Jack Rabbit Speaks, or feel free to contact us a with any questions you have about media at the event, or with any representations of Burning Man (images, words, etc.) that pique your curiosity.

Submitted by,

Raymond Allen