Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm with the Deadheads on This One

The New York Times reports that the Grateful Dead are shutting down a website of its live recordings. Why is that a big deal? Well, as many of you may know, the Dead always allowed fans to make and distribute live tapes from their shows for many years. Bootlegging and trading has been a longstanding part of Deadhead culture. However, as the article notes,
The band recently asked the operators of the popular Live Music Archive (archive.org) to make the concert recordings - a staple of Grateful Dead fandom - available only for listening online, the band's spokesman, Dennis McNally, said yesterday. In the meantime, the files that previously had been freely downloaded were taken down from the site last week.
Now, don't worry, there are ways to capture streams, but this is more about what it means to be a Deadhead...
To the fans, the move signals a profound philosophical shift for a band that had been famous for encouraging fans to record and trade live-concert tapes. The band even cordoned off a special area at its shows, usually near the sound board, for "tapers" - a practice now followed by many younger jam bands.

David Gans, who is the host of a syndicated radio program, "The Grateful Dead Hour," said in an interview yesterday that the battle is rooted in the band's "historically lackadaisical attitude toward their intellectual property." He added: "When they were making $50 million a year on the road, there wasn't a lot of pressure to monetize their archives." Now, however, it may be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. While the move to revise the Live Music Archive may deal a blow to what many fans considered an organized library of material, "the idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd," Mr. Gans said, adding: "It's no longer under anyone's control. People have gigabytes of this stuff."
Genie... bottle... please jump in. Pretty please.

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