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Grateful Dead Clarify Stand on Live MP3s 56

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the free-tunes dept.
Maver1ck writes "Seems things weren't as stange as they appeared last week. The Grateful Dead will, under strict guidelines prohibiting commercial use, still allow free MP3 downloads of live performances taped by fans. They just won't allow banner ads, sales of user data, sponsorship or any other "profit" from the exchange. Law firm press release is at PR Newswire. Still begs the question of paying for all that bandwidth..." Is it wrong to pay S&H to have a friend mail you a tape? Or to send him a couple bucks to cover a blank CD-R to have him burn you a concert? Bandwidth is a bit more expensive than postage though...
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Grateful Dead Clarify Stand on Live MP3s

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wouldn't it be more relevant to the 90's to ask what Pearl Jam's stance on mp3 is? Yes, the gratefuldead were cool back in the 60's. Can't we get over them? Moderators, score this -1, the debate down below zero is more relevant than the long winded platitudes at > 2.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I take exception to CmdrTaco's statement that bandwidth is more expensive then postage. It is far cheaper to send something digitally then to use sailmail. Not only to you have to pay USPS but there is all costs (and time) involved in packaging and creating/copying the media you are sending. You add all the up and you can see that sailmail is very expensive and very inefficient (unless you are sending massive amounts of data concurrently). Do the math... figure out how much effort and money it would take to send out 5000 copies of a Greatful Dead single via sailmail. But then everybody on /. knows that and that is why we have all abandoned using sailmail in favor of sending messages via email and downloading our music via MP3.

    The reason that bandwidth seems expensive to CmdrTaco is that he has to pay for all the leaches like me that come and visit his site and use his bandwidth. And he has a lot of leaches - so he needs a lot of bandwidth. The problem isn't one so much of cost of the bandwidth, but instead the economic model that the Internet uses... (i.e. everybody pays for their inbound and outbound bandwidth). That is great for a peon like me with my personal DSL line. I got bandwidth to spare and I can visit, for free, great sites like /. or mp3.com. But /. and mp3.com are hosting hundreds or thousands of users and so they as a LOT of traffic and hence have huge bandwidth requirements.

    And there is the problem, the Internet infrastructure does not allow a consumer of information to easily compensate the distributor of information for the bandwidth used to transport the data off their site. And I'm not sure I want it to be easy... think about what that would lead to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 1999 @04:11AM (#1896264)
    I used to do a little Phish trading in the past. And generally it IS considered wrong to exchange money in any form, whether it is to cover the costs of media and S&H or not.

    When using the snail mail this is usually handled by one trader sending the other blank media and return package with the postage already paid.

    This method covers everything but time and resources withouth any money being exchange, but time and resources simply can't be compensated for.

    I think this is pretty fair. I think the bands that allow taping of there live shows are doing a very cool thing for the fans. But, I don't believe anybody should profit off those recordings unless the band is getting a piece of the action.

    Bands generally benefit from tape trading - especially smaller/lesser-known bands, b/c the tapes allow a wider audience. I think the internet could increase this benefit by orders of magnitude.

    The problem of course being paying for the bandwidth.. I wish I had a solution, but I don't. The bands that could afford to distribute their live shows themselves off there site, would be large enough that they wouldn't need the exposure. And, the small bands probably couldn't afford to do it themselves. Fans will do it, but as this GD has pointed out, the have to do it without any financial gains.

    (sorry, that turned in to a rant - and sorry about the AC posting - I'm at work, and don't remember my password ;) )
  • Posted by tyler23:

    The best MP3 can do is still a lossy compression with extremely noticeable audio artifacts, primarily in the loss of dynamic range and dulling of the frequency extremes. It's fine for what it is - people were really glad to have the Phil & Phriends Warfield shows up so quickly - but realistically, it's not a suitable trading medium for anyone of an even moderately audiophile persuasion.

    I do download and listen to MP3s for fun at work, but I'd never burn a CDR of any of it, unless it was very cool and completely unobtainium otherwise. A few simple blind listening tests convinced me completely.

    I'm interested in this discussion; tape/CDR trading and OSS culture have always seemed similar to me in many ways. For example, I'm burning at total of 350 CDRs of those April Warfield shows - 35 copies of 10 disks each - none of them for trade. My motivations are exactly the same as most OSS programmers.
  • Posted by tyler23:

    I'm working on an article for PauseRecord [pauserecord.com] on exactly this issue. While I don't think the parallels are exact, I think the music trading community stands to learn a lot about intellectual property rights issues from the OSS community, which has obviously already thought about this a little...
  • Posted by tyler23:


    As usual, a bunch of people with axes to grind have to change the subject. You don't like the Grateful Dead, Phish, MMW, String Cheese Incident, or other jam bands? Fine. Don't listen. So what? This is an intellectual property rights issue, and your opinion of the music is irrelevant; and your emotional repsonse is very psychologically revealing.

    I don't get along with most Deadheads (or especially Phish fans). I find them boring. But I am a HUGE Deadhead and Phish fan myself, and I have a large number of Deadhead friends who fit no stereotype whatsoever. I listen to classical, avant jazz, trance, ambient, dub, folk, acoustic, and ska musics in addition to jam band stuff...

    Please get over yourself, and pay attention to what's actually being discussed.
  • Hate to be a pedant (OK, if you must, I love it)... but sending a disk/tape/whatever through the mail is just as much "bandwidth" as shunting the data down a wire is.


    In fact, a lorry full of tapes has far better bandwidth than a T1 line. The Latency sucks though :P
    --

  • by marcus (1916)
    Afterall, you have to pay for your site somehow.
    Would they object to your posting of an mp3 on your "free" geocities site? I doubt it. So long as "you" aren't "geocities".

    If you have a private, corporate site or personal one that is partly or wholly banner supported, then go ahead and post the GD mp3 on the server, just don't put any links to it on your sponsored page. Only give out the URL that goes direct to the GD page and let it stand alone.

  • First, my comments make the assumption that the site(s) in question provide mp3s for download legally, a la mp3.com. Since warez sites follow a different philosophy, my comments don't really apply to them.

    Question: by "warez" site, do you mean those sites with endless porno consoles and blink tags that never actually go anywhere (aka warez.com), or are we talking about an unpublished ftp server that someone's running out of their basement? The former would probably never carry Grateful Dead mp3's, but the latter is probably much more likely to comply with the Dead's licensing than mp3.com.

    Of course, then there's the ethical issue of whether Grateful Dead trading should be subsidized by the work and efforts of other bands who are, after all, competitors in a sense, which is what is arguably happening if banner ads to pay for the sites are viewed when downloading their material.

    This is more to the point, I think. I would say that an ideal solution would be for commercial mp3 sites to simply not carry Dead tunes. Leave it up to the amateurs, who have more of a vested interest in keeping it real.

    --Alex

  • Look at it this way-- before mp3s and the internet, cassette tapes and the parking lot outside concerts served much the same function. This is simply extending the same rules to new media. And I would imagine that it's perfectly all right to ask people to pay for shipping or the cost of the CD-R, since you're still not making a profit off the transaction.

    I think that the Grateful Dead were pretty revolutionary in their treatment of "bootlegging". Instead of considering it a loss of revenue, they called it free promotion. If only Fox would do the same thing with Simpsons fan sites!
  • You'll never hear surf music again... That when the deads first album came out way back when, that's what they said about them.
  • to answer on the ethics of shipping and handling with a e-version of the audience tape.

    postage would be absolutely ok. handling I would say absolutely not. the media is reimbursable, the time to burn it, no.

    bandwidth? uncharted territory....

    shameless promo on...
    Kuli Loach [halcyon.com]
    shamless promo off

  • Why not simply donate the rest to charity? Use banners, cover your bandwidth, donate the rest or save it for more bandwidth.. Not too hard to figure out, just ask the band which charity they'd prefer...

    Sounds fair to me...
  • Bandwidth can be used for personal reasons, and for as many different purposes as you want. Paying postage for a one-way shipment of some physical media can have no further personal use.

    "Gee, I asked for money to recompense charges for my connection, but I got so much that I have my ISP payed off for a year. Cool!"

  • This is good, at least they have a solid policy in writing. Speaking for myself as an avid trader I would never dream of going to a format which is less accurate than CD-R/DAT for trading, and there are many studio quality recordings out there with no generational degradation (love digital trading)... and CD-R's are cheap... but having MP3's will be nice for downloading and previewing stuff. I think most of the hard-core traders don't care much about MP-3 unless it gets beyond the "better than cassette but not as good as CD" level of quality.

    I wonder if the band will have the same policy for good ol' PCM. You can squish a full CD-R to about 300 MB with shorten (roughly the wav equivelant of gzip). With cable modems/xDSL getting cheaper fully lossless online digital trading is becoming more of a reality, 'cept when everyone else on your subnet is doing the same thing and you're getting modem-fast transfer speeds.
  • If you use your home machine to do thedownloads, on a 56K modem, then you don't need banner ads. If you need to pay for a T1 to cover demand, then you're commercial. That's like making hundreds of tapes a day - yep, that sounds commercial too.

    If you do it in your spare time for friends, your production is naturally limited. It should be the same for MP3s - if you can't afford it out of your own pocket, it's not a spare time hobby for a few friends any more.

    --
  • Thank you GD for this clarification!

    Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right!

    ---Anonymous Deadhead since 1990

  • This policy is similar to the Dave Matthews Band's. (Actually, DMB modeled their tape trading rules [dmband.com] on the Dead's.) The basic philosophy is this: Don't make money.

    Some people feel that trading for the cost of the tapes is fair. So you send me a 2-tape show, I send you $11 -- $4 / tape and $3 for shipping. Is that sales? Probably not, if you're just breaking even.

    So now we have the wonderful world of MP3s. I have an MP3 website. You want MP3s. I pay $50 / month for hosting (all that storage, dontcha know), I get 50 downloads a month, so I figure that I want to show 5000 ads and get $0.01 each. That way, I break even. Just like when trading those tapes.

    Oooh, but what if I show 5001 ads? Then I'm profiting. But is that wrong?

    I dunno. But I've got the DMB site [nancies.org] anyhow, complete with ads. :)

  • The interest in the Dead's stance is because they were the Founding Fathers of tape trading. The Dead do nothing for me -- I find them to be fairly uninteresting, to be honest. But their stance on trading has always been both unusual & trend-setting.

    Standard Oil might not be interesting, but their effect on the stock market is always worth watching.

  • Yes, but we are purists and preservationists. Our goal is for each and every person who receives a copy to possess an exact bit-image of the data stream that went onto the original tape. We are simply uninterested in anything less.

    You may or may not agree with this philosophy, but that's our goal. It's what DAT trading has always been about. People who spend $20,000 and up on recording equipment aren't really interested in compromises.


  • First, my comments make the assumption that the site(s) in question provide mp3s for download legally, a la mp3.com. Since warez sites follow a different philosophy, my comments don't really apply to them.

    Reading the document it isn't really clear to me if this is allowed or not, but couldn't sites which have banner advertising simply have no banners on the pages where Dead mp3's are downloaded from. In other words, folks going to download other mp3's would see ads, as would those seeing the main page with, say, the letter indexes ("Bands whose names start with A", "B", "C", etc.), but once on the "grateful dead" page no advertising would appear. This might allow sites to pay for bandwidth, but still be in keeping with the spirit of what the Grateful Dead are trying to achieve.

    Of course, then there's the ethical issue of whether Grateful Dead trading should be subsidized by the work and efforts of other bands who are, after all, competitors in a sense, which is what is arguably happening if banner ads to pay for the sites are viewed when downloading their material.

    For what its worth, I agree with the philosophy the Dead are trying to promote -- I'm just wondering if there isn't an economical compromize that would be in keeping with their requirements, yet allow sites to continue to finance their existence.

    comments? other ideas?

    jean
  • The bands that could afford to distribute their live shows themselves off there site, would be large enough that they wouldn't need the exposure.

    I disagree. It's easy for a small band to distribute free .mp3s. I'm going to be setting up a site for a small "bar band" that wants to serve their whole CD from the site. It should be fairly cheap ($50/month) and allow downloads galore.

    Bandwidth is alot cheaper than tapes & postage. Blank CDs are cheaper than audio tapes too.

    -=Julian=-

  • I'd say the height of the dead, IMHO, was the 80's, not the 60's. Right up until 1987's "in the dark" got them too popular with the general population, and they had to stop playing the small venues. 70's were OK, but I think things really improved when they got rid of the Godchauxs.

    And just because it is the 90's now doesn't mean that all the concert tapes aren't any more desireable. There are a lot of high quality recordings available that can be distributed endlessly now without degradation thanks to digital technology. I've always lived with analoge and hiss, but with MP3s, the incremental cost is negligable (say compared to a DAT deck), so it's much easier to go digital.

    And of course, tapes are all we got now. Life hasn't been the same since 1995.
  • Naturally the Dead are okay with MP3, and this
    policy is the same as all their other music
    trading policies, basically it's okay as long as
    you don't make money on the deal.

    Most all of the Jam-bands are using MP3, many of them provide them on their websites for download, providing both album cuts and live show outtakes for the fans.

    Lauan Records [lauan.com] (pronounced loo-ahn>, a Jam bands startup label, has colaborated with the Athens GA group Day By the River [daybytheriver.com] (DBR), to put out an all MP3 compact disc. They are providing over 4 hours of MP3 music for $10.00. If that isn't embracing the idea, I don't know what is.

  • I take exception to CmdrTaco's statement that bandwidth is more expensive then postage. It is far cheaper to send something digitally then to use sailmail. Not only to you have to pay USPS but there is all costs (and time) involved in packaging and creating/copying the media you are sending. You add all the up and you can see that sailmail is very expensive and very inefficient (unless you are sending massive amounts of data concurrently). Do the math... figure out how much effort and money it would take to send out 5000 copies of a Greatful Dead single via sailmail. But then everybody on /. knows that and that is why we have all abandoned using sailmail in favor of sending messages via email and downloading our music via MP3.


    Depends on what format you're sending in, of course. If I'm sending out a Dave Matthews concert in 128Kbps MP3 files, we're talking 150MB per complete download. That's not too bad for a person with a reasonably fat pipe.

    The problem is that a lot of us have picky ears - I can tell when music (especially live music) has been MP3'd. So, I get concerts using Shorten, which is a high-speed lossless algorithim. It compresses 1.75:1, so a 2.5 hour concert is roughly 1GB. When you talk about large scale distribution, (even 50 is large scale), that much bandwidth isn't cheap. I can stick 3CDs in a single jewel case and mail it for under $2.

    MP3 is nice to preview music, but with the quality of a lot of these recordings, I wouldn't want to burn a CD from MP3s when there's something better.


  • Isn't this interesting ??

    The same principles that "govern" the distribution of GPL-generated software "govern" the limitations of DeadHeads distributing GH concert tapes !!

    In the words of the recent Wired magazine, when will the music industry realize that "Good Karma is good for business" ??

  • i've got several hundred dead tapes, 2nd generation off the dead soundboard, from back when i toured with them in the early-late '80s, plus i've ggot a good selection of rarities from the 60s and 70s. email me if you want to convert them to mp3 - i just don't have the time to do it myself.
  • It's true that most hardcore traders have ignored MP3, much in the same way MiniDisc is shunned by most collectors. As an avid taper who has spent $4k+ on my recording rig I wouldn't think of mutilating my DATs with the flawed MP3 codec. Sure MP3s are convenient for listening to the latest one-hit wonder but most Dead traders are accustomed to going to great lengths to spread their music, they'd prefer to wait just a little bit longer for music that sounds better than analog. MP3 doesn't sound much better than analog to my ears.

    On the other hand, full PCM audio is taking off on the internet. My cohorts and I employ a string of ftp sites to spread shortened CD-R images. Lossless trading is very much a reality for us and there is no direct compensation. But as with the Open Source Software community, most people involved contribute to the scene. People host disks (thanks proftpd), do DAT > CDR conversions (*nod* pinlinux) or they burn CDRs for those without fat bandwidth. Of course, just as with OSS, there are always those who do not give back (especially the newer, more mainstream crop) but these people are the exception. I would think slashdotters especially would be understanding of the costs and time involved in this endevor of love.
  • You are right, the difficulty is that the manner in which people pay for bandwidth makes it difficult to account for the cost of a particular use. But I am sure a creative web hosting operation could come up with an equitable model, in which they would not charge the site author (except possibly for storage), and each download would have a small bandwidth-based fee attached to it. This seems to be the closest analog to paying for postage.

    This is basically the scheme that was suppose to underlie the micropayments boom on the internet a few years ago. It failed to take off, because consumers were uninterested in paying for content. But in a situations like the one we are discussing, where you have a captive fan base and no other option for financing, maybe bandwidth-based micropayments are the way to go.
  • How about a simple link at the bottom, something along the lines of "If you appreciate this service please click here" and link to some affiliate program. Then it becomes a donation of the surfer's time to the web site owner as opposed to a "forced" banner ad impression?

  • Its not wrong to pay for postage. (Typically $3 for Priority Mail ) There is no handling charge. You're not allowed to compensate more than the value of the media.

    Usually media is given directly. Its all about sharing. No handling charges because the band worked to give you the music, you're only copying the band's work.

    ....saving up for another DAT deck
  • I am continually surprised at how many people think that organizations which are already widely recognized and hugely popular would want/need extra publicity from people giving their products away for free. The Grateful Dead ALREADY have wide visibility and great press. This is quite a different situation from that of a unknown software application, utility, etc. which needs to ramp up its visibility and use in a rapid way. While there are Open Content licenses which may apply, they are most useful to organizations which are seeking wide (and cheap) distribution, not for those which have already attained this.
  • Bandwidth may be expensive, but you can do a lot more with it then with a tape. At least in my case, MP3s are the only way my music gets recorded. My tape recorder does not work near as well as my computer. ;) Maybe one day i will even post my MP3 files on a web site instead of email on demand when i actually have new stuffle.

  • The issue is greater than the dead or any other band, the reason it falls on the Grateful Dead is that they are the largest recorded and traded musical group, pretty much in the history of music. There aren't any other bands (except Phish, maybe) that have over 3000 hours of music available for trade of live performances. Let's change the band to Pearl Jam or DMB or any band of which you would like to get live recordings. Trashing deadheads and the Grateful dead is just plain ludicrous. One guy here went on to say F**K EM, well if it was a band you preferred then the argument would change.

    The big picture here is the more important one, no profit from distribution, Blanks & Postage are and always will be acceptable. I have been trading tapes (and now CDs) for the last 10 years and that was the guiding philosophy. I don't think that using adverts to pay for the bandwidth is breaking any rules, it sortof falls under the aforementioned 'philosophy'. Oh and the dead were more popular in the 90's (higher concert sales) thatn they were in the 60's, 70's or 80's. FYI
  • don't forget Medeski, Martin and Wood.
  • Nope. Wrongo... It's a hobby. My investment in taping gear, and PA gear is an investment in my hobby. If I, at the root, do the recording for personal gratification, without regard for profit, why should anyone take the product of my effort and love and reduce it to a mere commercial SKU?

  • This essentially is the same as most deadheads have always considered the etiquette of trading to be (whatever the medium) - and that is making no personal profit out of it, or covering costs other than the blanks and postage.
    If I went out and got a Nak dragon tomorrow for tape dubbing, I can't recoup costs through GD trading.
    I wonder though, is it permissable to have banners elsewhere on the site, just not on the download pages?

    Andy
  • I wonder though, is it permissable to have banners elsewhere on the site, just not on the download pages?

    Interesting question. What defines a "site"? What if I set up a site with banners, etc, and link your free download site within a frame? Legally, I'd argue that I'm not providing the downloads, and you'd argue that you're not making money. You could perhaps sue me, but that wouldn't do the Dead any good.

    Fact is, if anybody's looking for clear bright legal lines, they're going to have trouble finding them. This will evolve in a very informal manner. The Dead have expressed their support for trading in non-commercial settings. That gives them the moral authority to decide what's cool and what's not, and their fans have a history or more or less acceeding to what the band wants. For example, if they decided that a "framing" site as described above was not cool, they could take some action. But even if legal action were pursued against a few sites, and whether it were successful or not, the overall effect of the policy will be to keep the number of offending sites to a minimum.

    It's a nice way to do business.

  • >Some people feel that trading for the cost of >the tapes is fair. So you send me a 2-tape show, >I send you $11 -- $4 / tape and $3 for shipping. >Is that sales? Probably not, if you're just >breaking even.

    Dude, if you're buying analog tapes for $4 a piece get in touch with me. I'll get them for about $2 a piece, and sell you them for $3, amd we'll both gouge people.

    Of course, if you're talking DAT, forget I said anything.

    George

  • >what is to stop someone from buying bulk postage >& blanks and making profit?

    Nothing really, though if it gets out on r.m.gd, you get lots of flames and presumably it's harder to get nice tapes from 'heads with huge collections who buy into the no profit thing.

    Curiously though, people selling off analogs for about $2.00 a piece (usually upgrading to DAT) get far fewer flames, $2 being the apparent marker price for blanks and postage.

    George
  • With GPL software, you can charge whatever you want for the software. The only non-profit requirement under GPL is that if you ship the binary code without the source for a product, you must be willing to ship the source code as well for only the extra shipping fee.

    Personally, I don't have a problem with a site putting up banner ads or even charging for the download. I know that if a site charged, there would be another site willing to do it for free.
  • I dunno I guess time passed me by...Ive been trading since the late 70's and found mp3 to be a blessing. I actually listen to the music not just pick it to pieces on a technical level, most of the stuff im interested in is pre-heaven stuff that all came from analog source anyway. Ive found that mp3 more than fills my needs...higher quality gets a higer bitrate...2 or sometimes 3shows on a single cdr :) who can ask for more?

    Back when I was taping...my little DAT nearly broke the bank..lets just say i had to sell alot of baubles in the lot. I dont think that makes us less "hardcore" or serious...just enjoying it the best way we know how...

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