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10 Legendary Rock Bootlegs Likely to Finally Get Official Release

What will a European ‘use it or lose it’ copyright law mean for fans of Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Beatles and many others?

They Shall Be Released: Ten Bootlegs Likely To Be Forced Out

The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen and others will have to release vintage recordings to protect their copyrights.

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According to European copyright law, any recording that sits unreleased for 50 years loses its copyright. In recent years, this policy has forced Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Pink Floyd and many others to release massive sets containing everything in their vaults from certain years, even if it's multiple takes of a single tune or a dodgy-sounding bootleg concert recording. Some of these sets, like Bob Dylan's The Cutting Edge 1965–1966, generate a lot of press, though others are deliberately under-the-radar. Pink Floyd's 1965 (Their First Recordings) was limited to 1,050 vinyl copies. The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 came out via the iTunes store for just a few hours, but that brief window was enough to protect the copyright. Here's a look at 10 other sets that will have to see release in the coming years, even if they're limited to 16 8-track tapes available only in Paraguay or on four MiniDiscs sold at a Target in Saskatoon. 

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Bruce Springsteen: The Steel Mill Tapes

Earlier this year, Bruce Springsteen released "He's Guilty (The Judge Song)" on the companion disc to his book Born to Run. It's just one of many songs recorded by his pre-fame band Steel Mill, which existed from 1969 to 1971. They had a cult group of fans in Virginia and New Jersey, and they taped many of their shows. Shows from 1969 feature the group playing originals like "Sister Theresa" and "Going Back to Georgia" in addition to covers like "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "For What It's Worth." Springsteen already has a concert download website, so adding in the Steel Mill shows won't be a big lift. 

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The Beatles: The ‘Let It Be’ Sessions

The Beatles released all 59 songs they recorded in 1963 back in 2012, but since then they haven't been putting out copyright-protection releases for reasons that remain unclear. In a couple of years they're going to have to contend with the Let It Be sessions. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg filmed the sessions for Let It Be, and the raw audio hit the bootleg world years ago. That means there's hours of hours of them playing everything from Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" to eight versions of George Harrison's "Old Brown Shoe." If they choose to put all this stuff out, that'll be one huge box set. 

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The Rolling Stones: Paris, April 11th, 1967

One of the Rolling Stones' last shows with Brian Jones was recorded on a soundboard tape that leaked out many years ago, but the quality is pretty turgid. Still, you can hear them play "Paint It Black," "Ruby Tuesday" and "Let's Spend the Night Together" right around the time they began work on Their Satanic Majesties Request. This was a major period of transition for the group, and they'll have to release the recording before the end of next year or lose the copyright. 

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Led Zeppelin: Spokane, December 30th, 1968

Led Zeppelin began gigging in September of 1968, but it wasn't until December 30th of that year when a fan had the foresight to bring in a tape recorder and capture them for posterity. They were in Spokane, Washington, opening up for Vanilla Fudge and were so unknown that an ad billed them as "Len Zefflin." This Zefflin audience tape has seven songs, including "Dazed and Confused," "I Can't Quit You" and "White Summer." If they don't release it before January, 1st, 2019, anyone will have the legal right to sell it in Europe. By 2020, they'll have a flood of 1969 shows to worry about, too. 

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