Grateful Dead Productions: Non-commercial MP3s OK

Our report two weeks ago on Grateful Dead Productions and its dispute with MP3 sites was tainted by some bits of misinformation. Dave Rosenberg, webmaster at, has pointed out that his site did not receive a cease and desist order, but was asked to remove any Grateful Dead logo. Rosenberg was appreciative of the publicity the issue has received. "Thank you for publishing and making known the problems Deadabase is currently facing from Grateful Dead Productions," he wrote.

For its part, Grateful Dead Productions claims that it is going after only those sites that are exploiting Grateful Dead recordings for commercial purposes---such as the selling of banner advertising. Non-commercial sharing of music files will be encouraged in the same tradition as the sharing of analog tape recordings has always been, according to Dennis McNally of GDP's publicity office. McNally stated that, now known as AstroJams, had sold advertising on its site.

In an e-mail to Stereophile editor John Atkinson, McNally complained that the article did not note "that the people at Deadabase . . . had sold considerable advertising on their site and were thus using Grateful Dead's music as a way of profiting. We object to that, and always have." While AstroJams' operators may be technically correct that they haven’t made a profit, the selling of advertising is definitely a commercial venture.

GDP CEO Peter McQuaid replied to an April 22 request for clarification on the issue with a short fax, dated April 23, that is quoted almost verbatim in my report---a simple statement that GDP was in the process of forming a policy on MP3, which they finalized a few days later on the 29th. GDP 's MP3 policy has been circulated on the Internet, as follows:


The Grateful Dead and our managing organizations have long encouraged the purely non-commercial exchange of music taped at our concerts and those of our individual members. That a new medium of distribution has arisen---digital audio files being traded over the Internet---does not change our policy in this regard.

Our stipulations regarding digital distribution are merely extensions of those long-standing principles and they are as follows: No commercial gain may be sought by websites offering digital files of our music, whether through advertising, exploiting databases compiled from their traffic, or any other means.

All participants in such digital exchange acknowledge and respect the copyrights of the performers, writers, and publishers of the music.

This notice should be clearly posted on all sites engaged in this activity.

We reserve the ability to withdraw our sanction of non-commercial digital music should circumstances arise that compromise our ability to protect and steward the integrity of our work.