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Posted by Smokey Stover on August 03, 2005

In Reply to: Bootleggers posted by Brian from Shawnee on August 03, 2005

: : : : what is the meaning and origin of bootleggers.??

: : : Bootleg means the part of the boot that covers the leg; it's a place where one can conveniently hide things for smuggling.

: : : "Bootlegging" nowadays means usually making/distributing of an illegal copy of a CD, cassette or DVD. Especially in the music world, bootlegging means taping and recording a concert without the artist's approval and later releasing it (without giving any profit to the performer). Some artist accept this.

: :
: : But as far as I know, the original bootleggers were bringing alcohol to the USA in the Prohibition era. Unless anyone here has encountered an earlier use? (VSD)

: The Online Etymological Dictionary gives 1889 as the earliest date but they don't say where they got it from. this is what they say:

: "bootleg
: 1889 (adj.), 1903 (v.), Amer.Eng. slang, from the trick of concealing something down the leg of a high boot (originally a flask of liquor)."

: Any product that has not had tax or royalties paid on it, can be called a "bootleg" item, including records, CD's, liquor, and coal.

I've heard that the original bootleggers concealed flagons of spirits while trading with Indians, to whom it was illegal to give or sell liquoar. This was in the Midwest in the late 19th century. Bootlegging during Prohibition gave rise to the Mafia and other criminal gangs. Some of the illegal whiskey was smuggled, some made in concealed stills, of which some were owned by criminal gangs and some by moonshiners who made "white lightning" primarily for local use, but of which some was smuggled into the marketplace. Violating copyright by copying for profit is usually called piracy, although the copies are usually said to be either bootlegged or pirated. The works of Gilbert and Sullivan were copied wholesale in New York City by brazen pirates, but this was called piracy, not bootlegging, because the copies were not illegally transported, only illegally printed, and then only if you believed that New York had an obligation to adhere to international copyright conventions. SS

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