To keep confusion to a minimum I think it's best to use definitions from the IFPI ( and the RIAA ( to describe "bootleg," "counterfeit," and "piracy/pirate."  Below are direct quotes from each of their sites.  

  The term of piracy is generally used to describe the deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale.  In relation to the music industry it refers to unauthorised copying and, in this context, falls into 3 categories:

· Simple piracy - is the unauthorised duplication of an original recording for commercial gain without the consent of the rights owner.  The packaging of pirate copies is different from the original.  Pirate copies are often compilations, such as the 'greatest hits' of a specific artist, or a collection of a specific genre, such as dance tracks.

· Counterfeits - are copied and packaged to resemble the original as closely as possible.  The original producer's trademarks and logos are reproduced in order to mislead the consumer into believing that they are buying an original product.

· Bootlegs - these are the unauthorised recordings of live or broadcast performances.  They are duplicated and sold - often at a premium price - without the permission of the artist, composer or record company.

  · Pirate recordings are the unauthorized duplication of only the sound of legitimate recordings, as opposed to all the packaging, i.e. the original art, label, title, sequencing, combination of titles etc.  This includes mixed tapes and compilation CDs featuring one or more artists.

· Counterfeit recordings are unauthorized recordings of the prerecorded sound as well as the unauthorized duplication of original artwork, label, trademark and packaging.

· Bootleg recordings (or underground recordings) are the unauthorized recordings of live concerts, or musical broadcasts on radio or television.

n o t e s
  Now that we have that out of the way, there are a couple of other terms I'd like to cover:

  • · Aftermarket: For the purposes of the discography, this term describes any item that contains material being resold in a secondary fashion, usually by a company not normally associated with Nirvana.  The best examples are box sets; most of the time the CDs are regular copies of albums or singles that are easy to find, but have been repackaged with miscellaneous trinkets (e.g., a book, poster, postcard, shirt, or button).  Even though some of a box's contents may be official, the box itself is not.  There are some multi-item releases that fit this description, too, such as Nirvana: Limited Edition, which is an interview disc with a book.

    · Fake: This word can imply numerous things, so if at all possible try to use a term that is more specific (e.g., pirate, counterfeit, or even unofficial).

    · Copy: This is another confusing term because it can be used to describe either quantity or an unofficial reproduction.  In the latter case, try to use "pirate" or "counterfeit" so that people know what you mean.

    · Clone: When describing official releases, there shouldn't be any need to use this term.  Again, "pirate" and "counterfeit" are better suited.  But when it comes to unofficial releases, this word refers to one bootleg company copying another bootleg company's product.  The classic example in the Nirvana bootleg world is the Outcesticide series and the many clones that were made to capitalize on that title.  (Even though by the definitions above such an act could be categorized as piracy or counterfeiting, I personally feel that those terms should not apply to material that was illegal to begin with.)

    · Re-issue / Re-press / Re-release: These terms are interchangeable, but commonly abused.  They describe any item that has been officially put back into circulation.  For example, Sub Pop re-released Bleach in 1992 after Nirvana became popular.  They also re-issued the Bleach LP in 2000.  The problem arises from sellers that use these words to falsely describe unofficial releases in an attempt to either fool consumers or avoid the detection of sites like eBay that have rules about not selling unofficial material.  If someone uses these words in an auction, do your homework before buying something you may not want.


Digital Nirvana