Metalheads online are having a debate about whether it's right or wrong to buy unofficial band merch.

If you've been to a concert, then you know what we mean. Typically, before or after the show, people walk around the venue and parking lot with stacks of T-shirts, offering them for an often much lower price than what the real shirts cost inside the venue. There are also some retailers that sell T-shirts with famous band logos, but they aren't licensed products, they're bootlegs.

A user on the Metalcore Reddit shared a post titled, "Thoughts on unofficial merch?," and explained that some of their friends have been purchasing a lot of bootleg band pieces lately. They argued that they don't think it's "cool" to buy these types of items, not from a fashion standpoint, but because a lot of artists rely partly on their own merch sales to make a living.

"Designs are sick, yes. But I can’t help feeling like it’s totally not cool to buy unofficial merch. Especially when a lot of the bands we really like (and who’s Fugazi shirts and stickers they now own) do not make a whole hell of a lot of coin off their music alone. I know from personal experience how much a touring band relies on merch sales to keep the ship from sinking," they wrote.

The author of the post then added that after bringing this point up to their friends, their friends countered the argument by asserting that they're showing support for the group by walking around with their logo on their shirt, even if they didn't buy it directly from the artist.

The top comment on the thread reads, "Current bands shouldn’t be bootlegged. When it’s bands that aren’t around anymore or designs the band don’t run anymore then fuck it," and quite a few others shared the same sentiment.

However, some others believe it's simply just wrong.

"Even in cases where it's maybe 'acceptable' because merch isn't available anymore or whatever... I don't really think it's okay to make assumptions about how a musician wants their image/art to be presented. Like, maybe as an artist I don't want to be represented by your shitty self-made shirt or your crappy design?" another person noted, adding that regardless of a bootlegger's intentions when creating the unofficial merch, they're still ultimately putting someone else's name or logo on it without their permission.

People on the other side of the argument pointed out that they think buying bootleg merch is acceptable when you don't like the designs that the bands are putting out themselves, or when it's difficult to buy authentic merch because of geographical location. But, for the most part, they all still agreed that it's only okay if the individual is keeping the merch for themselves and not selling it.

"I made a few [T-shirts] myself because the official merch the band had totally sucked. Bought a CD anyway to at least support the band," someone said.

"I make my own. I’m in Australia and often the shipping for just one shirt from the U.S. is $60. I want to support them but I can’t. I don’t sell what I make, it’s only for me," another wrote.

A couple of other fans brought up personal finances as a justification for buying bootleg merch.

"Don't blame them, not everyone has a lot of money to 'support' bands. I bought two official merch from I Killed the Prom Queen and Conquer Divide, the rest is knock off cheaper version. We love music, but sometimes the money is not there to fully enjoy/supports bands, buying merch is like the last priority of everyone bucket list on top of everyday spending."

READ MORE: Why Do Venues Take Merch Cuts From Bands? - We Asked People Involved

Read the full discussion by visiting the Reddit link here.

Metallica's own merch company, Merch Traffic, filed a lawsuit in the St. Louis federal court in October in effort to stop the sale of bootleg merch at the band's show in the city. The suit asked the judge to stop the sale of bootleg items by allowing law enforcement to confiscate such items, and destroy them.

“The infringing merchandise is of the same general appearance as plaintiff’s merchandise and is likely to cause confusion among prospective purchasers,” the suit argued. "Further, the infringing merchandise sold and to be sold by defendants is generally of inferior quality.”

One thing we know for sure is, we'll never sell merch of an inferior quality. So if you're feeling supportive, you can also check out the Loudwire merch store for T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, pins, stickers and more.

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Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner

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