Grateful Dead halts live downloads, angers fans

THURSDAY, DEC. 1, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO — The Grateful Dead, the psychedelic jam band that toured for three decades, has angered some of its biggest fans by asking a nonprofit Web site to halt — at least temporarily — the free downloading of concert recordings.

Representatives for the band earlier this month directed the Internet Archive, a site that catalogues content on Web sites, to stop making recordings of the group’s concerts available for download, band spokesman Dennis McNally said Wednesday.

Fans, who for decades have freely taped and traded the band’s live performances, quickly initiated an online petition that argued the band shouldn’t change the rules midway through the game.

“The internet archive has been a resource that is important to all of us,” the petition states. “Between the music, and interviews in the archive we are able to experience the Grateful Dead fully.”

Representatives of the group, which disbanded in 1995 following the death of guitarist and lead singer Jerry Garcia, haven’t reached a final decision about whether they will ultimately permit the Internet Archive and other sites to offer free live recordings, McNally said. He said a compromise could be reached that allows some downloading of specific songs or shows.

The Grateful Dead once set concert attendance records and generated millions of dollars in revenue from extensive tours.

With concert tickets now removed as a source of revenue, sales of the band’s music and other merchandise have become increasingly important in an age where music is distributed digitally instead of on CDs, vinyl and cassette tapes.

The band sells music on iTunes and exclusive shows through its Web site.


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