Organizers of the Burning Man festival at Black Rock City have effectively shut down photography at this year’s event, according to a lament on the San Francisco Chronicle web site.

Rules for this year’s festival prohibit photographs of any people without signed model release forms, or pictures of the outlandish structures at the festival without the written consent of the artists. If you take pictures, you have to surrender all rights to the organizers of the festival, and refrain from distributing the pictures in any media–including Facebook–without their written permission.

The rules come off as an affront to all manner of rights and personal freedoms (at a festival that was built on those very principles, no less). And it’s a shame that a few bad apples have managed to spoil things for everyone (by going to Burning Man just to take and distribute pictures of naked, uninhibited women).

But maybe there’s a silver lining. The new rules just might be what we need to force aspiring documentary photographers to think outside the Burning Man box, and to save us from yet more of the same-old, same-old Burning Man pictures.

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