What are Broadway Bootlegs and What is Wrong with Them?


The legality of the process of recording and republishing Broadway productions, also known as bootlegs, has been debated since Broadway’s first show debuted. This is considered illegal, because the content has not been officially released by the venue themselves and there are multiple copyright infringements that come with recording. To reduce this, shows have started asking their viewers to put their phones away. If a viewer ignores this, they’ll be given a warning. If a viewer continues to disobey and gets caught, they’ll likely be asked to leave and remove all footage of the show. This is disrespectful to the actors and other audience members, as it distracts from the actual performance. In the chance that the viewer gets away with recording the show, they will likely post it online. This gives people around the world the opportunity to watch a show for free from the comfort of their home. Some people see this as a viewer “taking one for the team.” They argue that since the viewer paid for the ticket, he/she should be allowed to record the performance. However, as someone with experience in theater and with a viewer filming a performance, I understand why this is such a big deal. The combined hard work of the author, director, actors/actresses, tech crew, costume department, and set crew is what makes a performance so special. To assume that a viewer has all rights of recording and republishing the performance by paying for the ticket is belittling. Therefore, the best course of action would be to stop filming during performances. Eventually, the bootlegs will become outdated and viewers will have no other option than to see a show live. I understand that Broadway shows are costly, but there are dozens of affordable local shows each year. I’m sure the hardworking cast and crew would appreciate the support. That being said, our school is putting on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on November 22, 23, and 24. Tickets are $5. You should check it out. Filming is discouraged.