Bob Dylan had the "honor" of having his music be the subject of the first bootleg album in rock history. "Bootlegs" are albums or CDs that include music their artists or companies did not want to release yet or at all. The term "bootleg" probably derives from selling illegal whiskey which was sometimes hidden in the leg of a boot. "Bootlegs" are not pirated music, that is cheap copies of material that is commercially available.
In July 1969, two long-haired men in Los Angeles created The Great White Wonder. The men were known by various names, especially Ken and Dub, although in a Rolling Stone story, they called themselves Patrick and Vladimir. (When asked by the reporter to spell the name, "Vladimir' changed his name to Merlin.) The two created the TMQ ("Trademark of Quality") label and found 26 examples of unreleased Dylan material from various sources. The album itself had a blank, white gatefold cover. The album labels were white and blank. The copy I saw in 1969 did not have the title on the cover, but everyone knew the name.
The first and third sides of the albums included 12 songs and four cuts of Dylan talking. This material was taken from a tape made on December 22, 1961 in the Minneapolis residence of a former girlfriend, Bonnie Beecher. (Beecher is in competition for the title of "Girl From the North Country.") Dylan's friend, the musician Tony Glover, recorded it. Despite where it was taped, it is often called the Minneapolis Hotel Tape. The second side included various studio outtakes. The end of side two and side four included nine songs that Dylan and the group later known as The Band recorded in a house dubbed Big Pink. Finally, "Living the Blues" was lifted from a Johnny Cash television show.
Radio stations began to play selections from the bootleg. Ken and Dub borrowed cars and drove the albums to various record stores. For understandable reasons, they left no contact information. They sold the albums to the stores for $4.50 each. (For big customers--those who bought more than 50 copies--the would-be entrepreneurs lowered their unit price to $4.25.) The shops varied in how much they charged customers. The Psychedelic Supermarket, a Hollywood establishment with a name detailing its inclinations, charged customers $12.50.
There were not, as I recall, extended discussions about the morality of making the material available or purchasing it. There was a presumption that Dylan's genius trumped his right to control his own material. I don't know if the bootlegs hurt his music or concert sales. I do know that sitting down in the late evening with the lights low it was a thrill to put those albums on a turntable and hear the familiar voice singing new and unfamiliar and utterly remarkable material.