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Bootleggers force sale of Live Aid concert footage

16 November 2004

After almost twenty years of saying a blanket “no” to releasing a video of 1984’s superlative Live Aid famine-relief concert, organizer Bob Geldof said he changed his mind because of the large number of bootleg recordings available.

"I couldn't believe the number of bootleg copies being sold -- they are quite literally taking food from the hungry. This has to be stopped," said Geldof. The Live Aid DVD comes in a 4-disc set and all proceeds will go to famine relief, reports the Observer.

"I promised all the people on Live Aid that a recording would never come out, but when I rang them all about this, everyone said OK," he said, although earlier reports stated that Geldof had spent much time of late wrangling with various un-named stars’ lawyers over the rights to the footage, a perhaps-inevitable result of his own refusal to make the original performers sign any copyright or licensing agreements.

For those too young to remember, Live Aid was a 16 hour music marathon broadcast to a global audience of 1.5 billion, featuring artists such as U2, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Queen, David Bowie, The Pretenders, The Who, Elton John, Madonna, Sting, Bob Dylan amongst others. Considered by many as "rock 'n' roll's finest hour”, the concert amassed $140 million of public donations for famine relief in Africa and forced hunger issues onto the global political agenda.

The new Live Aid single, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, sung by 20 chart-toppers including Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, and Joss Stone is released tonight as an internet download direct from the Band Aid site.

Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that all sales of the DVDs and single would be exempt from VAT, saying that Band Aid's impact had been huge and he wanted to do all he could to help its latest project. This will mean a potential extra revenue of £8 million for the projects. 

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