Angry fans of the Grateful Dead stopped truckin' on Wednesday as word spread that the legendary San Francisco psychedelic jam band had pulled the plug on free downloads of its concert recordings from a nonprofit website.
Calls for a boycott on Grateful Dead music and paraphernalia and performances by surviving group members ricocheted online as news of the ban traveled.
Band spokesman Dennis McNally said Grateful Dead representatives had directed Internet Archive, a digital library of Internet sites, to stop making its concert music available.
Representatives of Grateful Dead Merchandising, which controls the band's products and is supervised by its surviving members, haven't decided whether to make the ban permanent, McNally said. A compromise that would make some shows or songs available may be reached, he said.
The Grateful Dead, which earned millions of dollars on tours between 1965 and the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995, had a reputation for generosity because the group encouraged the recording of its shows and even cordoned off a section in the audience for amateur taping equipment.
Now, "you want to change the rules," an online petition said. "It appears doing the right thing has given way to greed."
Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh issued a statement Wednesday on his website saying he had just learned about the ban and did not agree to it. "We are musicians not businessmen and have made good and bad decisions on our journey.... Your concerns have been heard and I am sure are being respectfully addressed," he said.
With the band selling music on Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store and its own website, free downloads can be competition, said Marc Schiller, head of Electricartists, which helps musicians sell their music online.
"When the music was given away for free to trade, the band was making so much money touring that the music was not as valuable to them," Schiller said. "Apple iTunes has made digital downloads a business."
Representatives of the Internet Archive didn't respond to a request for comment.
Associated Press was used in compiling this report