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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 11:17 GMT
Grateful Dead end download block
The Grateful Dead
The band largely retired after the death of founder Jerry Garcia
The Grateful Dead have dropped a plan to stop concert recordings being made available for free over the internet.

Fans protested after the cult US rock band asked website archive.org to stop making thousands of concert recordings available for free download.

Many fans saw the move as a betrayal as the band always encouraged fans to tape its concerts and trade tapes for free.

Bass player Phil Lesh said he wanted all of the band's music to be available "for those who want it".

Improvised concerts

The Grateful Dead became one of rock's most successful touring acts by playing improvisational concerts that varied nightly.

When the plan to block the downloads was announced, fans - known as Deadheads - threatened to stop buying merchandise in protest.

An online petition attracted more than 5,000 signatures.

"It appears doing the right things for the fans has given way to greed," the petition read.

The music is the Grateful Dead's legacy and I hope that one way or another all of it is available for those who want it
Bassist Phil Lesh
Bassist Lesh posted an apologetic message on his own website on Thursday, saying he did not know that the band had asked the website to remove the recordings.

"I do feel that the music is the Grateful Dead's legacy and I hope that one way or another all of it is available for those who want it," he wrote.

Grateful Dead spokesman Dennis McNally said the band was concerned that trading music over the internet did not create the same sense of community as trading tapes in person.

"There was a consensus to address this issue and it got addressed," he said.

"We are confronting an entirely new set of circumstances with moving new music around, and we are struggling with it like a lot of others."

The band largely retired from performing following the death of founder and leader Jerry Garcia in 1995, with remaining members renaming themselves The Dead in 2003.

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