Facing a revolt by its famously faithful fans, the Grateful Dead backed away on Thursday from a move to block "Deadheads" from downloading the jam band's concert recordings free of charge.
The San Francisco Bay-based band had asked an independently run Web site to stop making thousands of the group's recordings available as free downloads. But the founder and director of the Web site (www.archive.org), Brewster Kahle, said in an online posting Thursday that free bootleg audience copies of the band's concerts had been restored.
Fans had reacted angrily to reports of the halt in free downloads, since the band had always encouraged fans to tape its concerts and then trade the tapes without charge. Some also threatened to stop buying merchandise in an online petition that quickly garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
"It appears doing the right things for the fans has given way to greed," the fan petition said.
For decades the Dead, which emphasized touring rather than recording and selling records, generated millions of dollars of revenue from their shows. But since the 1995 death of lead singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia, they no longer keep up such an active tour schedule, making the Internet an important source of revenue.
"There was a consensus to address this issue and it got addressed," said band spokesman Dennis McNally. "We are confronting an entirely new set of circumstances with moving new music around."