I want to talk about bootleg records. These are unauthorized releases of musical material such as live recordings, outtakes, alternate takes and unreleased songs. The first known example of a successful bootleg was an unauthorized Bob Dylan collection of–ahem–misplaced tracks called Great White Wonder which a couple of hippies sold out of the trunk of their car in the late 60s.
From then on, trusted customers could go into indie record stores and ask the guy behind the counter if they had any “special” releases. There were crackdowns, of course, but the bootleggers always seemed to be one or two steps ahead. In the CD era, bootleggers moved offshore to jurisdictions with lax copyright laws or copyright regimes with giant loopholes. But then along came the digital era. What happened then? We’ll pick things up there next time.