Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future of music:

“The Mother of All Funk-Chords” (and the rest of the album, all available on YouTube) is (to understate it) really cool and shows how a community can indirectly collaborate to create an entire body of music. With nascent services like Indaba Music, you’re going to see more and more community driven bodies of music being released in the coming years.

Of course, this is all fun and games until a copyright lawyer gets involved.

We have a perfect storm brewing: the software is cheap to free to create such mashups easily, and the internet not only provides anonymity, but free distribution and an army of bloggers for promotion.

Suddenly, copyright laws are somewhat irrelevant, for little can be done to “correct” the release of uncleared samples in community mashups. Even assuming you can track down the original release (and assuming you have the proper jurisdiction), how successful could such lawsuits be? And just how are you going to stop the distribution of the offending work on a network that’s inherently decentralized?

We already live in a society where 45% of Canadian internet users surveyed download music and movies. As the media industry struggles to adapt their ancient business models to the internet, they have relied on lawsuits in attempt to protect their revenue streams. But as the battle goes on, it’s clear the media industry is losing.

So the question is: what will our copyright laws look like in, say, five years? Can we adapt them to the realities of the internet, or will they be made completely irrelevant?

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