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date: 13 July 2020


  • Dave Laing


An unauthorized copy of a recording of a concert or live broadcast. More recently the term has come to encompass recordings of rehearsals and Demo sessions. Music industry organisations distinguish between bootlegs, counterfeit recordings which are manufactured to resemble legitimate discs and tapes, and pirate copies which make no attempt to duplicate the packaging of legitimate releases. In all cases, the recordings are issued without the permission of the copyright owners of the music or the performance. The earliest bootleg recordings were said to have been made at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1901–3 and many subsequent bootleg discs were circulated in the USA before Congress granted copyright protection to sound recordings in 1951. Elsewhere, ineffective copyright laws in Italy (which protected performances for only 20 years) enabled the manufacture and export of numerous bootleg recordings of opera performances and radio broadcasts given by Maria Callas and other stars. In popular music, fanatical followers of such artists as Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin have made recordings of hundreds of concerts and circulated them in a semi-clandestine manner. Some groups, notably the Grateful Dead, have actively encouraged audience members to make recordings of their concerts. See also C. Heylin: ...

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