Bootleg: The Rock & Roll Liberation Front?

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According to affidavits filed with the U.S. District Court, Beckman then took the tape to Austin McCoy, who runs AMC Audio Engineering out of his rather nondescript home in downtown L.A. He was to make the acetates — which would be used to manufacture the metal disks called "mothers" or "masters," which in turn were to be used to produce the "stampers," which were finally used to press the records sold in retail stores. McCoy said Beckman told him he was the rightful owner of the tapes; the acetates were made, and Beckman was charged $161.76.

The acetates then went to the James Lee Record Processing Company in nearby Gardena, where the "mothers" and "stampers" were made. Gardena is one of several dozen anonymous communities in Los Angeles, memorable mostly for its countless all-night poker parlors, and James Lee is one of the many record processors in the city who asks no questions. "We've had lots of stuff come through here that's later turned up stolen or dirty, but we don't know that," an employee said. "We don't play the records when we get them, because if we do that we have to be responsible." The masters cost $12.50 each, the stampers $9.

From Lee the masters and stampers went to S & R Record Manufacturers, also in Gardena. S & R is a pressing plant, and it was here the finished copies of GWW were made and then stuffed into plain white album sleeves, ready for delivery to retail stores all over the country. In a show of generosity, apparently Beckman and Goldman even authorized the slight additional cost of shrink-wrapping the albums — wrapping the unmarked package in cellophane.

Meanwhile, a private detective named Richard Dunn was surveying Los Angeles area record shops. The company he worked for, Raymond Boyd and Associates, had been employed by John Faughnan, chief of security for Columbia Records. They'd been told to find out everything they could. Dunn said in an affidavit that he visited 45 stores and had seen copies of GWW in 23 of them; he suspected they were being sold "under the counter" in several others.

But so far as Columbia's determining who the bootleggers were, none of this was especially useful. If the shop-keepers weren't worried about displaying the records openly, they still weren't talking to strangers. Most didn't know the names of the bootleggers anyway.

The break in the case finally came when someone in the Columbia A & R department in Los Angeles got an anonymous phone call from a woman who said she knew who the bootleggers were. She told Mrs. Sandi Spidell that the guys on Columbia's most-wanted list were Beckman and Goldman, and, as a matter of fact, if Columbia really wanted to see something, they could go down to S & R in Gardena and watch the albums coming off the press. Thousands of them.

Mrs. Spidell was so astonished and excited that she hung up on the woman. The woman called back to explain why she had called in the first place. Beckman and Goldman had been bad-mouthing some friends of hers, she said, saying they were the guys who were bootlegging the Dylan LP. Not true, she said, and she hung up.

Columbia sent another of its private eyes, Pete Brito, to Norty's Discount Records to take a picture of Norty Beckman. He then started with S & R and worked his way back through the production companies involved, using the picture to identify Beckman as the man who's had GWW produced. (It was determined that at each step, Beckman had used an alias, Gerald Feldman — the third name listed in the court order.) The private eye also saw all those albums coming off the press, and told S & R that Columbia thought they were breaking the law and they'd better stop. S & R, owned by Anastacio and Ofelia Sapian, told Brito they'd stop when a court told them to, and no sooner.

It was getting very legal now. The plea for a restraining order said Beckman and Goldman and all the others had "wrongfully appropriated and exploited for their own benefit, the artistry, labor, expenditures and skill of Dylan . . ." It was, the brief said, "a simple case of piracy of Dylan's private musical performances for defendants' profit, and a brazen disregard of the Copyright Act provisions respecting recording licenses, copyright royalties and elementary fair play . . ." Not only that, but "defendants have caused and are causing great injury to plaintiff Dylan . . ."

They also asked for $20,000, saying this was the smallest amount that could be figured against loss of income and good will, and said this figure would be amended.

Judge Harry Pregerson waded through the pleas and affidavits (the file was fully two inches thick) and signed the restraining order. Norty Beckman, his neighborhood pal Ben Goldman, and S & R Records were told to stop fooling around. So was Dub Michael Taylor, a third individual named in the court order. Trouble was, Columbia's private eyes couldn't find Taylor.

"The truth of the matter is we aren't even sure who he is," said Columbia's lawyer in Los Angeles, Thomas J. Ready. "We think he was one of the youngsters to start this thing, to make the first Great White Wonder. But that's speculation on my part. We haven't been able to serve him with papers. We understand he's left the country."

But three out of four isn't bad. And apparently the action taken was paying off. Norty Beckman and Ben Goldman refused to talk to the press in early January — two weeks after the court order — but a woman who identified herself as manager of Norty's record store told a customer, "They told us to stop selling. We stopped, just as simple as that. Maybe I scare easy, but the way I see it, I'm David and they're Goliath. Who needs it?"

She apparently had forgotten how that Biblical story ended, but there were no bootleg records on display in her shop that day. Nor were there any in Goldman's, a mile or so away. And a similar action by Columbia, this one instituted in Canada against International Record Corp. Ltd., the Canadian distributor of GWW, was also successful, with the defendant agreeing to "cease and desist."

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