December 02, 2005
A long strange trip...
And another blow struck for free content on the web.
For those of you old enough to remember, throughout their touring career the Grateful Dead allowed fans to record their concerts and encouraged them to swap tapes of those concerts with one another. It was a business model that flew in the face of the standard recording industry model of controlling all content--recorded or performed--but one that worked for them (as long as they were touring).
The Internet made it oh so easy to trade those recordings and, with the death of their leader Jerry Garcia, the band stopped touring, vowing that the Grateful Dead would never tour again. Well, sort of. Now they tour sans Garcia as "The Dead." But, as Reuters reporter Michael Kahn reported on today's wire (okay, Reuters used to be a "wire service"), the band failed in its attempts to limit the sharing of fan-made concert recordings online:
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 1 -- Facing a revolt by its famously faithful fans, the Grateful Dead backed away on Thursday from a move to block "Deadheads" from downloading the jam band's concert recordings free of charge.
The San Francisco Bay-based band had asked an independently run Web site to stop making thousands of the group's recordings available as free downloads. But the founder and director of the Web site (http://www.archive.org), Brewster Kahle, said in an online posting Thursday that free bootleg audience copies of the band's concerts had been restored.
Fans had reacted angrily to reports of the halt in free downloads, since the band had always encouraged fans to tape its concerts and then trade the tapes without charge. Some also threatened to stop buying merchandise in an online petition that quickly garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
"It appears doing the right things for the fans has given way to greed," the fan petition said.
"There was a consensus to address this issue and it got addressed," said band spokesman Dennis McNally. "We are confronting an entirely new set of circumstances with moving new music around."
In other words, their fans had grown far too accustomed to sharing these files, starting back when the files were audio tapes, and to block that sharing now turned out to be a breach of trust in the eyes of their fans.
Could this be a lesson for others who let people have content for free for years and then start trying to charge?
Posted by mills at December 2, 2005 09:25 AM
you make me want to go back and listen to mine....yes, ladies and gents, amanda was a deadhead...still is, sort of...
Posted by: amanda at December 6, 2005 07:05 PM