Grateful Dead’s Strange Download Trip Ends

    December 1, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The widow of Jerry Garcia and the surviving band members had asked to take downloadable recordings of the band offline, but the resulting fan outrage has forced a change of heart.

Call it a Pyrrhic victory for Deadheads. Downloads of audience recordings can be found at the Internet Archive again, but the downloading of soundboard recordings will not be enabled at the band’s request. Streamed versions of soundboard recordings can be found on the site in place of the original downloads.

News about the initial ban on all downloads of the Dead’s music had made news as far up the media food chain as the Wall Street Journal.

At issue weren’t the thousands of analog tape recordings of hundreds of Grateful Dead performances, but the higher-quality audio recordings tapped from soundboards at their concerts. The Internet Archive had been asked to take them down. Brewster Kahle of the Archive posted about the abrupt change on November 30th:

Following the policies of the Grateful Dead and the Dead communities we have provided non-commercial access to thousands of great concerts. Based on discussions with many involved, the Internet Archive has been asked to change how the Grateful Dead concert recordings are being distributed on the Archive site for the time being. The full collection will remain safe in the Archive for preservation purposes.

We appreciate that this change will be a surprise and upset many of you, but please channel reactions in ways that you genuinely think will be productive.

Associated Press confirmed that in a story appearing in the Journal and other places:

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.

Today, things are different, and for some reason Kahle and the Archive seem to be willing to take the publicity hit on behalf of the Dead, in a note posted today:

We at now realize that our mistaken attempts to move quickly were based on what we thought the Grateful Dead wanted.
For this we apologize both to the Grateful Dead and their community.
There has been a great deal of reaction, our actions have caused more than necessary.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.