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The Tapers

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Jerry was noted as saying that after he was done with the music, the Deadheads could do what they wanted with it. Dead Heads began sneaking portable tape recorders into Grateful Dead concerts, starting in the 1960's. By the early 1970's more bootleg concert albums had been released than the number of releases in the Official Grateful Dead collection. Needless to say, the band's record label was not happy about the situation. After about 15 years of debate, the Grateful Dead allowed taping at their concerts. The rules were simple 1) the tapes must only be used for noncommercial purposes and 2) all taping must take place in the designated taping section established at each concert site. Tapers made up a bit of a subculture of the Deadheads.

Originally published in Relix Magazine

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Years later, the Grateful Dead have continued to break legal ground by allowing the noncommercial usage of Internet Downloads of MP3 music files of these concert recordings.

Press Release May 11, 1999
Grateful Dead Sanctions Free MP3 Music Format

Decision Follows Action Against Commercial Web Site

MILL VALLEY, Calif., May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- In a major policy initiative by one of the nation's most enduring musical groups, the Grateful Dead will, under strict guidelines prohibiting commercial use, allow free Internet downloads of live performances taped by their fans via the popular but controversial MP3 format, the group's attorney, Eric Doney,
announced today.

Doney, a partner in the firm of Donahue, Gallagher, Woods & Wood, said the Grateful Dead is believed to be one of the first major bands to adopt a policy that essentially endorses free MP3 music, a format some members of the recording industry have strongly condemned.

The decision follows several weeks of discussion and review by the surviving members of the Grateful Dead and includes strict and non negotiable guidelines, Doney said. Furthermore, the announcement follows recent dispute with the owners of a web site that posted MP3 files of Grateful Dead live recordings for free download but received revenues
from banner advertisements.

"The members of the Grateful Dead feel this decision is important and far reaching for both the band and their fans," Doney said. "This MP3 policy continues the band's long tradition of allowing free access to and trading of live recordings of their music and ensures that fans are not left with outmoded technology.

"At the same time, the strict guidelines protect the Grateful Dead against the very real threat of pirated intellectual property posed by the trading and possible sale of MP3 files via the Internet."

Under the guidelines, any web site owner is free to post copies of the group's live recordings made by fans as MP3 encoded files but may not derive any form of revenues from the endeavor, Doney said. This means web site operators may not charge for downloads, may not solicit any
form of advertising, may not post any type of banner advertisements and may not sell e-mail addresses or other data about fans downloading Grateful Dead music.

Only live recordings are sanctioned by this initiative, Doney said. The Grateful Dead will continue to aggressively prosecute any web site operators or any other businesses trafficking in Grateful Dead studio recordings, which are protected under US copyright laws, Doney said.

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