February 15th, 2017
It was half a century ago today that the first laws against bootlegging music were enacted. The practice of bootlegging intellectual property can be traced all the way back to Shakespeare, who’s works have been transcribed and published countless times. I can’t imagine old Willie received too much of that royalty money.
"Where's my money?"
Bootlegging had been around for quite some time but it wasn’t until 1969 that the practice became widely popular. This was thanks, in part, to Bob Dylan’s Great White Wonder. This was the first major bootleg rock album. Included on Great White Wonder were many otherwise unreleased tracks from Dylan. This is where bootlegging shines.
The 1967 laws were, of course, an effort to prevent artists and labels taking a hit on their sales due to unofficial albums being readily available. This is a motivation I understand and sympathize with but just imagine all the unreleased gold out there.
I would never want artists to suffer financially because of bootlegging but I would love to hear alternative recordings of the greatest hits known to man; No two performances are exactly alike. So long as no money exchanges hands, I would love to see a resurgence in otherwise unavailable bootleg performances reaching the ears of loyal fans.