Bootleg guideline examples [done]

I am proposing to add the following examples, and make the following tweaks, to the Style/Release docs :

Bootleg should be used for pirated/counterfeit/unofficial releases, but not every unofficial release should be added as a MusicBrainz bootleg. An exact digital rip of an official physical release does not qualify for a separate bootleg release, even if no official digital release exists.


Has related threads:
Withdrawn guideline examples
Cancelled guideline

1 Like

I think unofficial is better than pirate. Pirate sounds like a something dodgy or illegal. Bootlegs are perfectly legal, just unofficial. And in many cases they are officially allowed unofficial recordings of concerts.

Bootlegs collect the music you can’t get through paid for “from the band\label” sources.


I hadn’t touched that intro paragraph, but I agree that it seems an ommission, and I have added ‘unofficial’ in a few key places (some of those examples are definitely illegal to produce and sell, so I’ve left the other verbiage as well).

In MB we have been using bootleg type for both unofficial concert recordings and for pirate releases like SM Records.

I am not saying this is good but, as we only had Bootleg and no other types, it is what has been used.


Those are more accurately described as ‘counterfeit’

Bootlegs are sometimes called ‘ROIO’ - Recordings Of Indeterminate/Illegal Origin.


More examples

I think counterfeit and pirated should not be included.

We still need counterfeit in there as that covers knock-off Chinese and Russian CDs.

I got a rather good deal on a Pink Floyd boxset once as it was a well made Chinese copy. What was funny is everything was copied perfectly - except the copyright notice. Look at all the company names in the following.

why not break Counterfeit out as a seperate type as well. It’s closer to a official release than a bootleg…

Do you realise how many counterfeit releases are already in this database? Bootleg is currently 2% of the releases in the database. Seems sensible to just keep the definition to cover that.

Bootleg is a good slang to cover all the unofficial stuff. Especially as there are some releases that border on all three terms. I could pull out some Italian CDs of Pink Floyd concerts as examples. Copies of bootlegged concert recordings unofficially released on official labels. All nice and confusing overlap that is neatly covered by MB’s current terminology.

You would never want to confuse these with official releases.


…and then you have that whole copyright law BS. Pink Floyd is one of the few bands that actually seems to care about this and they have been dumping bootleg recordings (including audience recordings) on streaming services to claim the copyright or to avoid loosing the copyright. Then it seems like they remove the releases as quickly as possible because they don’t actually want them to be released.

And then it gets even more complicated because there are actual bootleg labels who often appears to pretend that this law also applies to them. The result is loads of bootlegs on streaming services, that requires you to have deeper knowledge about the artist, the label, or common practices (listed as “radio broadcast” or similar) to be able to identify the release as a bootleg. I also get the impression that some of these labels are run by the same people and that they release the same concerts with different titles and track orders to maximize the profit.

A few examples:

Counterfeits are different to Bootlegs. Counterfeits have the same title, track list, artwork etc as an official release and are basically trying to be the genuine article… This is common terminology across many types of products. I think it would be easier to separate them and their disc IDs into a distinct type of release.

Discussion about changing the meaning of the status, or adding new ones, should probably be a new thread. This proposal isn’t trying to change anything, just explain how it currently is.

At least we know that it’s helpful to have examples, as everybody seems to have a slightly different idea of what the MB ‘bootleg’ status means! (I didn’t expect that)


welcome to the grease pit! :grinning:

1 Like

I agree it makes sense to have examples of the unofficial and the pirate variety of bootlegs.

For what it’s worth, the definition of Bootleg is in Release: “An unofficial/underground release that was not sanctioned by the artist and/or the record company. This includes unofficial live recordings and pirated releases.” The point of mentioning the pirated bits specifically in the style guideline page was to strengthen the point that those also count as bootleg in MB, not just the unofficial lives, and then say when to enter them (“unofficial” is not listened just because it didn’t seem to need extra emphasis).


Are these bootlegs and can I add them to MB? This guy makes his own versions of CDs for his own collection. The reason I’m asking this is because: those CDs aren’t available for anyone else (supposedly he sells them to other fans, which seems illegal) and I don’t know if the CD was actually burned or if he just uses it to print the medium, if it wasn’t burned, then there isn’t any music on it.

Not appropriate to the MB database, if he’s not selling them.

Though it seems like he might be… if you find out he’s selling a decent amount then I’d say it becomes a valid bootleg entry.


I have question that puts the focus on a slightly part of the matter. Look at this edit:

The question is, when is a bootleg suitable for inclusion? If the private CDRs in someone’s collection are not, then surely my collection of live tapes and CDs and FLAC files are not suitable either. That is how I thought it was for MB. And therefore I requested to delete this item:

It only exists on tapes and in FLAC files and probably on several CDRs burned by people themselves for their own collection or for trading.

Does that make it suitable for an entry in MB?

If people are going to that much effort to keep it alive, then it shows how much of a noticeable Release it is.

OK, good point. I just wanted to be sure that MB was also about that. I got the impression that MB was more about stuff that has actually been released and offered for sale. So it all depends on the definition of a release. I am fine with any definition, just want to be sure.

It will open up the database for a LOT of entries then. I have about 2 terabyte of concert recordings that have not been released. Many recordings exist in slightly different versions - depending on lineage (1st gen copy, 2nd gen copy, especially important with old tapes from the 60s - 90s). Some were cut down to fit on a 74 or 80-minute CDR. Some were remastered or mixed from different sources.

Like I said, I am OK with any definition and entering stuff like that, but only if that is the way the community wants MB to take as well.