Music Mashups: Testing the Limits of Copyright Law as Remix Culture Takes Society By Storm
In an age where rapidly changing technology is transforming traditional methods of communication and expression, many wonder if the laws of the twentieth century will suffice in the new millennium. The Framers of the Constitution certainly did not anticipate the World Wide Web, and it is unlikely that the drafters of the Copyright Act of 1976 could have foreseen the difficulties that would arise in the digital era. Digital technology and the Internet have not only made infinite collections of unique art available, but they have also made it possible for people to mix and mash others’ works with little difficulty and no authorization. Consequently, society is witnessing a shift away from passive involvement in culture toward a more active, participation- oriented scheme. The practice of borrowing ideas to create and inspire new art has never been as prevalent as it is now. One area that is increasingly affected by this shift is music. In fact, there is an entire genre music, commonly known as “mashups,” dedicated to borrowing and mixing others’ works. A music mashup8 is a song formed by combining two or more preexisting songs.