News Flash: Larry, M2 & BRLLC settle dispute with Law.
My ex-buddies and their lawyers carefully scrutinized my complaint and, realizing the unassailable logic and legal correctness they notified my attorney that they’ll be dropping the “Burning” & will be calling the endeavor from now on:
Marian Goodell, is the one person who joined the party after 1996 without whom the desert event simply would not have survived. I’m not joking when I say that her PR skills are excellent. I admire these skills greatly.
Marian Goodell, spokeswoman for Black Rock City LLC, of which Harvey and Mikel are partners, said the two have agreed to go to arbitration to sort out trademark ownership and are “disappointed and surprised” by Law’s legal action.
Arbitration IS litigation. Complete with attorneys. It’s not a happy backslapping beer fest with your slightly PO’ed buddies. Trying to make this sound like my reaction is out of left field may be compelling messaging but it is not entirely the truth. Larry made a power grab for the symbols; M2 forced litigation claiming Larry & I had no rights to these symbols and I responded to being threatened by both of these actions.
Secondly, about the event. We’ve gotten questions from a number of participants asking “Is this the end of the event?” The answer is “No”. We are moving full steam ahead for Burning Man 2007, and we will be back in the Black Rock Desert this August — count on it.
What I’m doing is the best possible thing for the event. None of this legal stuff should ever impede the actual financing (through ticket sales) and building of the event. Bringing the dealings of all parties involved, their intentions, motives and history into the light can only be good for the people who enjoy the event.
Finally, about the idea raised in the lawsuit of putting the Burning Man name and image in the public domain. While the concept is interesting, the reality is that we’ve been fighting attempts by corporations to exploit the Burning Man name almost since the first day we set foot on the playa. Making Burning Man freely available to individuals who would only use it to make money would go against everything all of us have worked for over the years. We will not let that happen.
The first “corporate interest” in the event was Helco in 1996 (the seventh year on the playa – believe me NO business interest were taking us very seriously before that year at the earliest) and they attempted a leveraged buy out which, while not succeeding, sowed seeds of future board-room chicanery. Other “corporations interested” in the event while I was still Operations Manager were Port-O-San and the like, because we paid them well for their services.
Harvey did a power grab for no apparent reason. M2 named me in arbitration Why?? There was NO action by me that precipitated their surly moves. I made no request for cash, control or change. My litigation is a response to my business partners’ boneheaded moves and disregard for the community. Releasing the name to the public domain solves the disagreement and allows all the countless volunteers to continue the experiment and see if this really is a movement.
We’ve created a desert oasis free of corporate sponsorship and marketing, a place where interactions aren’t intermediated by commerce. More than that, we’ve created a global community of people who share values of radical self-reliance, self expression, and civic responsibility. Burning Man is more than a place or an event, it is an idea. That idea is worth protecting, preserving and defending, and that’s what we’ll continue to do while we work out this disagreement.
Black Rock City LLC is a corporation. There is a marketplace on its website and commerce is occurring. The BRCLLC has set it up so that NO ONE except the BRCLLC can profit from the name created by countless volunteers. We are not talking Pabst Blue Ribbon here- a guy trying to sell his tent on Ebay mentions “perfect for Burningman” and gets a cease and desist. It is curious that the BRCLLC, with full knowledge of the Paper Man agreement, never offered to compensate one of the original BM partners (or Jerry James for that matter – look him up, he started the whole ball rolling so long ago.) Things that make you go “hmmm?”
Many advocates of the desert event (which IS a thing much bigger than a simple business) believe that the whole thing is a movement. They might be right, though for me, personally, the jury is still out. If it IS a movement anything Larry, M2 or I do (or any lawyers for that matter) cannot stop it.
Here is the great news kids. This law suit may just be the thing that can heal the Harvey/M2 relationship. … instead of heading for a divorce they just might start kissing each other with their mouths open again. I think we can all look forward to a unified front from the LH/M2 duo and a photo-op reconciliation as they try to slap my happy ass down. You’re welcome.