This article is from the Bob Dylan FAQ, by Adam K. Powers and John Howells firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
A bootleg is any recording, live or studio, which is not officially
sanctioned by the artist's recording company for sale or distribution.
In the U.S., it is legal to tape a radio show or television special
for your own personal use, but it is illegal to sell or rebroadcast
such a recording. It is also illegal to record concerts without the
artist's consent, and anyone who makes or distributes bootleg
recordings can be subject to prosecution. For more information on the
legal aspects of bootlegging, and a short history of same, see the URL
Dylan's 'Royal Albert Hall' concert is one of the most famous
bootlegs of all time, dating from the 1966 tour of England (this
recording is really from Manchester). Contains some truly amazing
live performances; the 'electric' set was received very poorly by
the audience at hand. Near the end of the show, an irritated
audience member yells out "Judas!" Dylan responds by saying: "I
don't believe you... You're a liar!" before launching into a truly
overpowering version of "Like a Rolling Stone," obviously directed
at that same audience member... This audio bootleg is one of many
fragments of soundboard tapes circulating from the 1966 tour, and
the origin of these tapes is a frequent topic of discussion among
Dylan fans everywhere.
A pirated recording, however, is an illegal copy of an official
release by an artist. Anyone who tapes a legally available CD or
record and then tries to sell you a copy is violating the copyright
on that recording and is knowingly depriving the artist of royalties.
The record industry does its best to search out pirates and prosecute
them. Pirated recordings (often made in countries like Thailand
or Indonesia, where authorities are easy to bribe or too busy to
notice) do deprive the company and artist of money, and are thus
far worse than bootlegs - the record industry claims that it loses
hundreds of millions of dollars every year to record pirates. These
are usually the cheapo tapes with blurry covers (or no jacket at all)
that are sold in flea markets and the like. Avoid like the plague.
On the other hand, counterfeit recordings are generally very
professional in appearance (supposedly there are thousands of pirated
copies of the Beatles' "Let It Be" album in circulation that are nearly
indistinguishable from the official Apple Records release).
A counterfeit recording is an exact copy of a legitimate recording
(often with a few distinguishing flaws) that is illegally distributed as
the real thing.
Nevertheless, there are literally thousands of bootleg recordings of
Dylan performances and even studio sessions that are widely circulated
among collectors, and certain countries (such as Italy) have lenient
copyright laws which allow many of these recordings to be pressed on
compact disc. These discs are usually distributed as expensive
"live/rare" material and can only be found through record specialty
stores (usually the same places that sell used records) and individual
dealers, some of whom do mailorder business.
It is not within proper Internet/Usenet etiquette to make the sources
of such black-market operations available publicly, so the only way
that you will find bootlegs is by finding a store that sells them or
posting a request for information and waiting for someone to respond
via email. That is one FAQ that can't be answered publicly.
The discussion of bootleg material is an important part of
rec.music.dylan and anyone who objects must remember it was a central
part of the original charter voted on when the UseNet Newsgroup was
approved by democratic vote. If you don't like this aspect you are
free to start your own Newsgroup.
Many people obtain 'live/rare' material by trading DAT or cassette tapes.
This is obviously a lot cheaper than searching for profit-seeking dealers
of CD bootlegs (most of these are mastered from cassettes, anyway),
and is far less condemnable, so long as there is no payment involved.
Rec.music.gdead, the newsgroup for the Grateful Dead, is one place
where live tapes are traded legally - this is because the Grateful Dead
allow their concerts to be taped from a special section of the audience
and distributed for non-profit listening. If you follow the newsgroup
for a while, you will invariably see discussions of unreleased Bob Dylan
material. A friendly email response will often help locate someone with
whom you can trade live Dylan tapes...
If you do come across a Dylan CD and want to tell the newsgroup about
it, simply imitate the format of other listings you have seen, or ask
for help. Of importance are the songs included and their length, the
title and manufacturer of the disc, the matrix number (printed in tiny
characters on the inner ring of the disc), and the supposed origin of
In short, the easiest way to find a particular out-of-print or rare item
is to latch onto a discussion of that item, or to bring up the topic
yourself. Most Bob Dylan fans are quite willing to share their addiction
A few pointers for those just starting out in tape trading:
Always use CrO2 (or better) cassettes - Maxell XLII is a good standard,
since its availability and quality standards are known worldwide. TDK SA
seems to have been accepted as an equal. (Digital Audio Tape recorders are
best, but not everyone can afford DAT...)
Be sure to indicate whether or not you want to use Dolby Noise Reduction -
many tapers prefer no Dolby at all, but Dolby-C has developed a sizable
Few novices record at the correct level on CrO2 cassettes - don't be
frightened of the red, it takes massively high levels to distort with
a good machine. Record too low and the tape hiss generation by generation
in a tape tree becomes intolerable.
Restart from the beginning any final track which is unfinished on the
first side of a tape. Most trades are done on a one tape for one tape
basis - if you discover that you can't fit all the items requested onto
the number of tapes allotted, don't just send an incomplete recording!
And do make sure you have actually taped the FULL recording. It is all too
easy to accidentally clip the end of a song witout noticing. Stay in touch
with your trading partner to avoid disappointment on both ends. Above all,
don't be afraid to ask questions if you become confused!
Agree with your trader if they want blank tape left blank, filler inserted,
or the source restarted to fill the tape with repeated material. Also
determine the prefered method of shipment and whether or not you will
be mailing the tapes in their plastic boxes. If you are mailing overseas,
be sure to indicate that the package is a 'gift' on the customs form;
and use a low value when estimating the worth of the package contents.
Many countries levy considerable customs fees for valuable packages, which
the recipient will have to pay...
THE BOB DYLAN BOOT DATA BASE (BDBDB)
EDLIS now maintains a database of collectors who have registered
ownership of particular Dylan boots. The purposes of this service
are to disseminate information about boots (playlists, times,
quality, etc.) and to promote networking between collectors.
Periodically, a post to rec.music.dylan will be made under the
subject "EDLIS - Who Has Which Boot..." describing how to access
the service and how to contribute your collection list. Questions
posted to the newsgroup at-large are also relayed to the agency.
You can also contact email@example.com for more
As with EDLIS' lyric service, the Who Has Which Boot database
depends on the generosity of collectors who send in their listings
and volunteer to provide information. No collection is too large
or too small, and your participation is strongly encouraged!