sxswnonono
There is a "no photography or videotaping" policy for the sessions. If I had known, I wouldn't have lugged my Canon Digital Rebel with me...

There is also a $90 fine for using any of the power outlets in the halls or in the session rooms. What do they think we're going to do, plug Marshall amps into the power outlets and start playing in the halls?

Pretty blogger unfriendly...

UPDATE

Cory
The Austin conference center has changed its tune about its policy forbidding attendees from using the AC outlets. Jon Lebkowsky says, "They changed the rule - people can plug in. They just told me to announce it on my 11am panel. Yay!"

UPDATE You can take pictures now too.

The only restriction on pictures/videos/recording is that they must be for personal use.

Kudos to Cory for the call to arms.

34 Comments

That's really too bad... I could imagine an alternate policy that would be more along the lines of "Please respect speaker's requests to not be photographed or videotaped." As for the power fine... how the hell can you have a conference these days without access to power for PDAs, laptops, cameras, cell phones, remote control cars, game boys and the like? Jeez...

Is there a $90 fine for using running water from the taps in the men's rom, too?

Germany is no better: some days ago, Deutsche Bahn, the still partly state owned railroad company, initiated to prosecute a student who charged his notebook from a public power outlet in a railroad station. That, while some meters away in the First Class Lounge, people are _invited_ to charge their gadgets.

In a world where every move you make is video taped, moblogged, audio recorded, or text blogged, I can see how such policies will be on the increase in places you'd least expect. Think about it, the panel is essentially "content" that is valuable and sellable. So, to some degree, they are attempting to protect their content's value. Wouldn't it be cool if one day citizens could fight back by levying a video fee (google adsense per click style) on any public space camera that videotaped our faces (i.e. "our" valuable content)?

Men's roOm, that is.

I laughed when the volunteers asked if I had any cameras. They all laughed back, well aware of the fruitlessness of the task...

I wonder if the no photography is a policy of the convention center or has something to do with the fears of either the music or film industry people at the parallel conferences?

The power outlet policy is set by the convention center and not SXSW. I'm just not sure how they're going to bill you the $90 charge.

And here's a moblog consisting entirely of images from this "no cameras" conference: sxsw.blogs.com

Joi: thanks for making it easy for me not to attend next year's SXSW.

Here's my thoughts on it: http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/03/13.html#a7000

I only have enough budget to attend a couple of conferences every year. I'm going to go where I'm welcomed. And I'll recommend to anyone who asks me to do the same.

It's unfortunately obviously all contractual/liability crap. The conference center probably has some weird policy about the power outlets -- like they didn't follow fire marshal guidelines before and if they don't toe the line, they could be fined $5,000 or some nonsense. I've heard of this before.

The no photo/video policy: I've helped plan a few dozen conferences in the past, and the story goes like this: a few speakers won't sign a contract that allows unstructured/uncontrolled photos and videos. They have a stock agreement that disallows this without additional fees. Conference organizers freak out about having lots of different contracts. So they have one contract and post signs.

The future, of course, is with both power and streaming media at events. The next conference I plan (for this fall) will have both -- as well as Wi-Fi and other on-site blog, Wiki, etc., tools.

The power is a conference center thing. All centers do it, and it's a nudge nudge thing. There's a ton of power outlets available in the trade show starting tomorrow. The no photo video thing is the insure the integrity and privacy of the speakers.

I don't know the facts, but my guess is that they center charges for how many power outlets you use and you're right, the "no video/no photos" thing is probably a release form thing and probably makes senses in the film and music part of the conference. I guess I'm just sensitive about the "nudge nudge" thing just because that's how, for instance, the Japanese government wields so much power. "Yeah, that's the law, but you can break it. Everyone does. But if we don't like you, that's what we'll use to throw you in jail."

It seems to me that it's an area that the organizers could make an effort to push and maybe even take a risk to make us feel a bit more welcome. Why not just announce the sessions where you are NOT supposed to take pictures, rather than making it a blanket policy.

Also, the "unauthorized" thing probably pushes another button of mine which is the whole professional vs. amateur journalism thing.

Or maybe I'm just being a cranky jerk. ;-P

nah, its because austin is a forced liberal city. back in the mid 80's california started migrating to cheaper real estate locations for industry. theres a whole slew of half assed tech towns in the south ... tuscon AZ, albequerque (military tech), and then austin. The human atmosphere of austin is still affected (at least in a subconcious way) by the down-south mentality, theres lots of anger in austin, people dont understand what it means to be cosmopolitan and laid back yet hyper at the same time.

I mean, its shit to get around if you dont own a car, this just shows that the infrastructure has not caught up to the culture of the people.

I was wandering around the capital building of austin a few months ago, and some russian stranger started conversation with me about austin. He asked me what I thought are some interesting sights to see in this town, and after thinking for 5 minutes I honestly told him I had no good answer.

I think now, I would have answered that the best thing about austin is leaving.

This all coming from a born and bred new yorker...

I used to help plan CNET's Builder.com conferences and Fawcette's VSLive conferences and I never had a speaker ask to not let photos be taken.

If any speaker tried to pull that kind of crud on me I simply wouldn't invite them to speak. Generally the speakers need to be on stage more than the conference needs to have them there.

Well, I have only enough budget to attend two to five conferences a year. I'll go to conferences that don't mind my camera cause that lets me get more value out of my investment.

First... two issues... $90 fine? How do they expect to enforce this fine? They aren't law enforcment. Just do it anyway and tell them to go bother someone else.

Also... per the "unauthorized" photography. If someone gives you crap ask everyone in the room to tell you it's authorized :)

Kevin

Warning people to stay off the power is understandable (health and safety concerns come to mind), but hello? Ninety freakin' US dollars? I could make microwave popcorn nonstop for a week, and I still wouldn't rack up a $90 power bill in *Australian* dollars.

What might make sense here would be to set up a little charge station or two, with lots of power outlets. Keep people out from under the patrons' feet, charge them a couple of dollars, give them a cup of coffee, and let them hang around for a while. It's not like people don't already pay enough to attend.

But as for the photography thing: Hello. What did you expect?

If I were a speaker on a panel, I'd find it extremely disconcerting to have someone popping a flash in my face. If you asked, at least I'd be prepared. Same goes if I were an attender. You want to stand up and wave your camera around? Hell no. Quit distracting me.

I'd surely honor somebody's prior request to take a photo, as long as they didn't do it in the middle of something important. And I don't mean five-paragaph disclaimers, I just mean if you wandered up beforehand and asked me.

Yeah, Joi. I hereby authorize you to take as many pictures you want and use any power outlet you find while at SXSW.

Heh. It's like fining people $90 for playing their car stereos at a lowrider convention.

what next

No Talking
No Breathing

At the CraigsList panel I attended yesterday, either lots of people were ignoring the signs or lots of people were "authorized". Craig didn't seem distracted by the flashes.

I've been trying to decide what conferences I should go to -- SXSW was on the list, and maybe it'll stay there -- what other conferences does everyone go to? O'reilly Emerging?

As an Austinite, I can honestly say this sickens me. The whole point of SXSW is to showcase Austin. Do we really want to showcase this kind of mentality? Rather than putting a sign in every conference room, the organizers should've given said signs to the speakers when they check in, and let 'em know they can use these *if they want to limit taping* rather than making it a de-facto standard.

And as far as a $90 fine for plugging into the AC outlets: The Convention Center employees aren't police - they can't enforce any fine. The most they can do is force someone to unplug.

Again, is this something we want to showcase? Should they be allowed to hide their ineptitude for planning as a $90 fine? How about they set up some bistro-style tables and have this be a place where folks can jack-in to charge up and check mail?

As an Austinite, I can honestly say this sickens me. The whole point of SXSW is to showcase Austin. Do we really want to showcase this kind of mentality? Rather than putting a sign in every conference room, the organizers should've given said signs to the speakers when they check in, and let 'em know they can use these *if they want to limit taping* rather than making it a de-facto standard.

And as far as a $90 fine for plugging into the AC outlets: The Convention Center employees aren't police - they can't enforce any fine. The most they can do is force someone to unplug.

Again, is this something we want to showcase? Should they be allowed to hide their ineptitude for planning as a $90 fine? How about they set up some bistro-style tables and have this be a place where folks can jack-in to charge up and check mail?

I dunno, I don't think I'd want to have streaming video of myself on the web for eternity, fully googleable. I'd at least want some control over it. The prohibition gives them a cause of action under the DMCA I'd think, so they can at least pop off a letter to the ISP of the person posting video and have it taken down. Seems reasonable to me.

If the only reason that people go to conferences now is to blog them or take photos of the speakers, than why waste the money?

Perhaps the people going to so many conferences have become jaded, and the only interest for now is their own interaction--like the hyperactive kid who can't sit still.

Well, I charged up all day yesterday *and* I took a zillion pictures with my Rebel. If they want like to send me home, or try to fine me, I'd be amused by that.

Isn't the idea to make things open and free? Why not just ask the speakers if they mind being taped or having their pictures taken. I mean, is this the Martha Stewart trial or something?

God forbid anyone gets a picture (or gasp! video) of Cory explaining all the things he's involved in and how much traffic boingboing.net gets!

What bugs me is that between policies at venues and contracts with ALL participants, the final rule often comes up as very limited use to visitors/participants. I was really mad last fall when I had to walk and put my camera away after waiting in line for an hour for a concert because photography or recording wasn't permitted... even though some of the band's shows are hosted in the Live Music Archive at archive.org.

I could understand a rule of no FLASH photography at a presentation - that would definitely throw a speaker off. But at least leave it up to the speaker to decide if they'd like to allow various kinds of uses.

For years I attended SXSW at my own expense and participated extensively on panels and giving speeches as requested.

One year (about three or four years ago) I agreed to give a talk at the University of Texas law school while at SXSW, and I was told by SXSW that they have an "EXCLUSIVE" on anyone attending and that I could NOT speak at the law school.

This was hard to believe, but it turned out to be true, and so I cancelled SXSW, spoke at the law school, and will not return to SXSW until the exclusivity rule is overturned.

Speaking as someone who's been a speaker at several conferences, I can see some of the other side (yeah, here I go, playing devil's advocate again).

I have no problem with someone taking my picture when I'm speaking. I have no problem with signing an authorization letter for the conference to videotape me and sell the tapes later.

What I don't like (and I suspect that what SXSW is objecting to) is the videotaping of sessions by conference-goers without the permission of either the conference or the speakers. Yeah, sure, it's cheaper for a company to send one attendee with a camcorder and then play tapes of the entire conference afterwards to the entire staff--but that's not kosher, imo.

Glad to hear that they cleared up the issue with the power usage. That was just stooopid.

Well, I'm kinda liking the "personal use" rule. It selects in terms of blogging. I put it on my blog, that's a personal use. I submit it to an editor, it's now commercial and thus verboten. I knew Austin would pull through on this one. Good precedent...

What does it really cost for a small business to allow folks to plug in their laptops and various devices? It seems like the more time one spends in a store/cafe/restaurant, the more $$ one spends. If somebody stays 20 minutes longer and orders that second Double Mocha, isn't the electricity usage negligible? Wouldn't the business owner then want every single table to have a power outlet, 10-base-T jacks and metered (or better yet, free) network access?

Having organized conventions, I'm sadly aware of the fact that it's not particularly unusual for hotels and convention centers to charge insanely high fees for the use of electrical outlets or telephones. The $90 cited probably should not have been described as a "fine"; it's probably just the standard fee for the use of electricity. They get away with it because usually they're charging exhibitors that have no choice and consider it part of the cost of doing business. It's not at all comparable to a small business like a cafe letting people plug in their laptops because they want to get their business.

What, a conference where people will actually sit in the back and pay attention and not surf the net? What will al Qaeda think of next?!

I remember presenting at this conference in 2002, and fortunately there were some unauthorized 'gloggers in the audience, because I was able to find some pictures of my talk on a website somewhere. Otherwise I'd have no record of the talk other than my own 'glog. Sometimes it's nice to have some record of the talk: maybe Subjectright (rights in picture owned by subject appearing in picture rather than by either the conference organizers or the photographer) would help.

Maybe speakers could impose GPL (Public License) on the conference organizers.

A lot of anger in Austin? eh? What city did you visit? "People dont understand what it means to be cosmopolitan and laid back yet hyper at the same time." eh?

Austin isn't pretending to be New York or LA. If you appreciate Austin for what it is, and how unique it is, instead of badmouthing it in comparison to other cities, perhaps you wouldn't come across as the one with all the anger.

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