Are digital torrent/blog bootleg compilations releases? (asking again)

This question has been up many times. I’m talking about the following:

  • A bootleg compilation, often a V/A compilation, of digital files.
  • Circulated on the internet, often originating from a pirate blog where they link to file hosting sites or torrent for download.
  • They often have a specific name, a front artwork, and are often part of long numbered series of releases.

I thought the issue was, if not settled, at least strongly leaning towards yes they can be added as releases, since this thread: Inappropriate releases in the database
where style leader reosarevok and auto-editor aerozol, as I understood, stood on the yes side. However, everyone did not agree on where to draw the line and I guess there was no “official” answer or 100% consensus.

Anyway, since that thread I have since let such releases be, and instead fixed them of issues like I would any other release for e.g. my subscribed artists.

But just recently I spent quite some time fixing a large, and somewhat poorly entered, such release, only to find it was then deleted, by three other auto-editors. This was a V/A compilation of mp3s, originating from a pirate blog, it had a name and artwork and was possible to find in other places too.

Now, to be clear. I don’t mind that those editors deleted it. I don’t need to have those releases on MB. I think they are not that useful, are often added with low quality of data, and would be happy with a guideline that restricted their existence on MB.

What I’m saying is can we please have a guideline, so it’s clear that one should not waste a long time fixing releases which are then deleted.

My rough proposal to start out would be that maybe we could make some more additions to the paragraph about bootlegs in Beginners Guide - MusicBrainz
Proposal 1:

While we welcome bootlegs, we discourage adding home-made compilations or mixtapes that are not widely available. Information about them is typically only useful to the individual who created them and any information about them is only useful to the individual who created them.

We also discourage bootleg compilations or mixtapes that are only available online and only consist of already existing and available recordings. These kinds of releases are often shared via torrent, file hosting sites, or other file sharing services. However, if such a release contains recordings not available elsewhere, it is allowed.

A direct digital rip of an official CD should not be added, but a pirate release with tracklist not previously existing (e.g. including demos or remixes in addition to the content of the official CD release) can be.

In all cases, if you do add pirate releases, please do not add any download / purchase links to them; we want to document them, but not actively promote piracy.

Or, proposal 2, the opposite guideline:

While we welcome bootlegs, we discourage adding home-made compilations or mixtapes that are not widely available, only shared with a small group of individuals. However, bootleg compilations that have been shared openly, for example on a public blog or forum, are allowed.

Information about pirate releases is allowed if they are not equivalent to an official release: a direct digital rip of an official CD should not be added, but a pirate release including demos or remixes in addition to the content of the official CD release can be.

In all cases, if you do add pirate releases, please do not add any download / purchase links to them; we want to document them, but not actively promote piracy.

I would personally prefer proposal 1.
But much more than that, I would prefer there to be some guideline than none so we know whether to fix or delete these releases.


First off:

Yes is the answer to which question, exactly?
I don’ts see it before this sentence nor as the topic title. :smiley:

Sorry to hear about your wasted time :persevere:

I don’t think the new guideline (proposal 1) of allowing bootlegs if they include stuff that’s not available/has no existing recordings isn’t a great idea - MB doesn’t usually gatekeep entry based on perceived merit of the musical contents, which is what I feel this leans towards. I think ‘widely distributed’ is a good enough metric.
Example: If thousands of people want to download a popular comp of available recordings I think it’s as valid to our users as a comp of unreleased demos.

Interesting, do you have a link? Those auto-editors should probably be part of the discussion (even if they obviously lean towards no, where we may lean towards a yes).

@reosarevok I think it would maybe make sense, in any case, to break up the Bootlegs paragraph into multiple, under a new header ‘Bootlegs’, in the guide?

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“Are digital torrent/blog bootleg compilations releases?”

Edit, I clarified the post a bit now :slight_smile:

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Sure, this is the edit I talked about:
Also auto-editor azertus (which I almost confused for you for a second :slight_smile: ) was the one who notified my that the release was being deleted: Edit #95930662 - MusicBrainz

Also, here’s a link to another earlier thread about the same issue: Is a torrent-only bootleg an acceptable release?


I personally lean more towards allowing such releases, especially if they’ve got unique remixes, but even if they don’t

also tagging @HibiscusKazeneko, @chaban, and @Akeldama, some of the editors in question


I don’t want to encourage editors adding bootleg compilations willy-nilly. They’re the digital equivalent of a mixtape, and their inclusion acts as advertising for the pirates who created them.

If they are widely available/distributed then you should discuss a change to the guideline with the community, instead of removing.


This was something I had to deal with when I was editing Krewella’s page. There was an obvious bootleg linked to them and Zedd called Breaking Point and a cursory Google search immediately led to pirate sites. The original editor who added it seemingly sourced it from a reseller that didn’t give a damn about reselling pirated content.

I didn’t know the policy about it so I simply decided to change it to a bootleg release and make my edits votable (to which I was given Abstain votes).

IMO, the issue with allowing these particular types of bootleg releases is that in most cases to prove they exist, you need to link to said pirate sites which would put MusicBrainz legally in hot water. There might be places like wikis and other reputable databases that might be able to help with adding bootleg releases, but that’s far and few between. Then again, I’ve seen known VGM piracy sites be a valid source for bootleg releases on RateYourMusic. It’s a grey area, really. Whatever the higher-ups say goes, tbh.


This is a large part of my issue with hosting bootlegs on MB. We could be sued into oblivion or worse if the wrong artist notices a bootleg of theirs mentioned on MB they’ve been trying to erase from the Internet.

See above. I (and you) lived through the post-Napster panic days, and remember the “solutions” that were tossed around back then. The last thing I want is for some of those “solutions” to be re-implemented and targeted at MB.

These are concerns to raise with community, the MeB ‘heads’ or even the EFF which I believe covers our asses.

In this situation we have editors spending time working on stuff that seems to be allowed by guidelines and community discussion, that is then removed, with every likelihood of it happening again… it’s not productive!

Personally I don’t see a problem. MB has never hosted music files and so has never been at risk, and has (from what I’ve heard) fielded tons of takedown notices from artists thinking they can remove ‘factual data’ from MB, which we don’t accede to. I don’t think it’s a legal issue.


There have been instances in which we’ve been forced to capitulate. I specifically remember one where a big-name artist sicced a takedown-for-hire firm on us to bully us into erasing biographical information about himself. We were even forced to edit the blog post talking about it after further threats.
It’s not a stretch to believe this could happen if the wrong artist decides to go after us over their material. I can name one artist in particular who is so protective of her music she’s not in MB and even Discogs won’t touch her.


Fair enough! We should all pull in the same direction though.

Even though this community can never decide on anything :pensive:

Personally I would see the loss of the ability to document bootlegs as a big loss, but as with everything would have to go with the guidelines.


I understand this. I’ve documented bootlegs (mainly live bootlegs) myself. It’s difficult to draw a line between what’s acceptable and unacceptable on MB. These compilations for which the thread was started are so much of a grey area that even I have mixed feelings about them. I don’t want to lose music information, but at the same time I don’t want MB to be overrun by pirates sneakily hawking their wares via our database.

I think the legal aspect can’t really be debated until consensus among the community but rather something that has to be assessed by the foundation team. Which I’m sure they have done and do think about continually.

The current guidelines clearly state that (at least some) bootlegs are allowed (“welcome”, even). In my opinion we shouldn’t feel the need to delete truthful information purely based on a speculative legal risk. If there’s an actual legal risk, the foundation needs to put whatever is necessary to limit that risk in the guidelines. Otherwise the random bootlegs that happen to be found by editors who choose to delete them will be deleted, and others will be allowed, so how does that help the possible legal risk.

So, again, in my opinion the real solution is to clarify in the guidelines what goes and what doesn’t, whatever side the coin lands.


Here are the (likely) downloadable pirate compilations from the past weeks coming from my subscriptions. Six in my subscriptions added this past week. Still don’t know whether to fix or remove them.

NSFW, nudity


4 of these are impossibly long CDs from “Wikipedia”, all added by the same user…


…which may be an indication they’re affiliated with a pirate site and subtly using MB as advertising.