AstroJams Back in Action with Grateful Dead MP3s

Houston, Texas-based AstroJams is back online with Grateful Dead MP3s. The site shut down its offerings of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band downloads after receiving a cease-and-desist order from attorneys for Grateful Dead Productions in April. At issue was the site's use of advertising to generate revenue. GDP claims the sole legal right to commercial benefits stemming from the use of the band's music and logos, but had "never objected" to the free sharing of music in the Dead tradition, according to Dennis McNally of GDP's publicity department.

AstroJams' founding partner and president, Joshua Kerr, maintains that the site generated only $1000 in ad revenue, as opposed to an investment of more than $10,000 to bring its transmission bandwidth up to an acceptable level---a disparity that placed the website outside the definition of a commercial enterprise in the minds of its founders. "I don't think it's fair to say we were trying to profit off the music," Kerr said.

GDP saw the situation differently, and the two sides have been wrangling ever since. As of May 15, attorneys for AstroJams succeeded in working out a deal with GDP that enables the free distribution of MP3s again.

"Recently they released a statement that allows fans to offer downloads as long as no revenue is generated as a result of the downloads," Kerr informed us by e-mail. "To conform with this rigid policy, AstroJams removed all advertising banners. We are now revenue-free and able to offer Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band music again.

"To demonstrate to the world that AstroJams was never set up to profit off other bands' music, we will continue to distribute MP3s even without generating any revenues. We will continue to provide this service by reaching into our own pockets to pay for the costs of doing so. We take on these expenses because we truly love music, and believe strongly in the free-music effort started by the Grateful Dead back in the Sixties."