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100 Copies of Bob Dylan Outtakes Record Released to Circumvent Copyright Laws

Bob Dylan
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

A set of 86 Bob Dylan outtakes from 1962 was discovered on shelves in European record stores last year. But while albums of unreleased Dylan are nothing new — 1969′s ‘The Great White Wonder’ is considered to be the start of the bootleg industry — this is actually an official release, albeit in a limited edition, rare for an artist of Dylan’s stature.

The four-CD ’50th Anniversary Collection’ is an attempt by Sony, Dylan’s label, to comply with European copyright law. As a Sony employee told Rolling Stone, “The copyright law in Europe was recently extended from 50 to 70 years for everything recorded in 1963 and beyond. With everything before that, there’s a new ‘Use It or Lose It’ provision. It basically said, ‘If you haven’t used the recordings in the first 50 years, you aren’t going to get any more.’”

In layman’s terms, Dylan’s unreleased works were about to become public domain, so Sony quietly pressed up about 100 copies and distributed them to various stores in France, Germany, Sweden and the U.K. They could also be downloaded from his website by people in France and Germany, but they have since been taken down. As is the case these days, copies have already found their way onto eBay, where they are selling for more than $1,000.

In 2011, the Council of the European Union passed the law that extended the copyright in response to pressure from record companies, who were worried that in 2013, the seminal recordings of the ’60s — such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — would become public domain. Now, barring another extension, that will not happen until 2033.

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