A few days ago, YouTube began muting the audio tracks of videos that contained “unauthorized” copyright material. Some videos will now have the notice “This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled.” displayed beneath them.

This is a good move for YouTube. It will help absolve them from any liability for “broadcasting” content that the RIAA cabal deems worthy of protection.

It’s not such a good move for the RIAA and similar groups. A music track is an essential part of many videos, and we can be pretty sure that not many people who produce them are going to go to the trouble of obtaining copyright clearance. Instead, they’re going to seek unencumbered music. This is going to drive up the demand for “open” music, which will in turn cause more musicians to provide the same in exchange for some small promotional credit on the video.

Thus a win-win is born. Video creators will have access to more music they can use, musicians will have a showcase for their work with a potential for global profile that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. How long will it be before this exposure results in a musician who “makes it” in the mainstream? It will only be a matter of time.

How will these musicians feel when a big label comes along to offer them a contract that pays a fraction of the revenue they actually generate while insisting that they turn their backs on their roots by joining the copyright cartel? Some will buy in to the promises and sign up, but some won’t. Instead they’ll seek new methods and revenue models for distributing their work. Perhaps they will make the bulk of their money from live performance, or maybe they’ll find other ways to do it, but they will eventually succeed at it.

Once a successful formula has been found, those who seek to maximize revenue by controlling distribution will have lost the final step in their battle. They will have successfully spawned a revitalized industry that makes them irrelevant. This has always been inevitable, but YouTube’s move will certainly accelerate the process. To me it is amazing how, blind to reality, this industry continues to find ways to kill itself off with ever greater efficiency.

Kudos to YouTube; still yet another dunce cap to the established music distribution business.