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Deadhead site gets heavy letter over MP3 tapes, man…

You can't publish Grateful Dead tapes on the Web, and you can't use the name - did Jerry die, or something?

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You'll believe a trip can get even longer and stranger. Grateful Dead Productions and Ice Nine Publishing, custodians of the Dead's music and its publishers, respectively, seem intent on busting the crap out of the Deadabase Web site. Deadabase's sin is the publication of MP3 versions of live Grateful Dead concerts recorded by fans. As some of you youngsters probably aren't aware, the Dead famously allowed fans to tape and exchange anything they played. One would therefore expect - as indeed Deadabase reasonably expected - that these sessions could be freely shoved up on the Web and exchanged that way too. But no. According to an extremely fierce letter from Eric Doney of Donnahue, Gallagher, Woods & Wood, which Deadabase has republished on its site, "This firm represents Grateful Dead Productions ("GDP") and Ice Nine Publishing Co., Inc, publishers of the music of the Grateful Dead, in connection with investigating instances of illegal duplication and/or distribution of recorded music. We have reviewed your Deadabase.com site in which you offer for download at least forty (40) live shows apparently recorded by fans of the Band [sic. Lawyers, dontchalovethem? What would fans of The Band be doing at Dead gigs?] over the years. As you are no doubt aware, for many years, the Grateful Dead have permitted their fans to record performances for their personal enjoyment. Individuals who record the tapes are also permitted to trade them among fellow Deadheads. No one other than GDP, Ice Nine and their expressly authorized agents, however, is permitted to offer the download of recordings of Grateful Dead performances under any circumstances." (Our italics) The letter doesn't go on to say under what conditions GDP et al will offer the download of recordings, but one could surmise that folding green stuff might be connected in some way. We of course would be the last to suggest that their streets run deep with poisoned wine or their doorways crawled with fear. But for Deadabase, it gets worse. The use of the name Deadabase is claimed as a trademark infringement, and the site itself "contains a great deal of Grateful Dead material and could reasonably be construed by a user to be sanctioned by my client... We ask that you eliminate any recordings of the Grateful Dead from your site and that the use of any derivative of the name "Grateful Dead" also be eliminated from the site." Depending on whether or not Deadabase is making money out of the recordings (it says not), then the MP3 part of the action may have justification -this. However, is gratuitous. But they say they've got a warrant - do we figure they're gonna come in? Deadabase thinks (hopes) that the move hasn't been sanctioned by band members, and claims to have spoken to song writer John Barlow. It claims Barlow has been shown sales figures that show Deadbase isn't making money out of the recordings, and that Barlow has indicated that the band wants fans to be able to exchange MP3 versions of its recordings on the Web. But pending developments, Deadabase has pulled the recordings. ®

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