There are these industries of middlemen - RIAA, MPAA - that claim to "protect artists" but what they're really protecting is themselves. Artists (and I include myself in that word) need to rise up and tell these people to go get stuffed. We can decide when a mashup is perfectly fine with us. We can decide to embrace file traders to build awareness of our work. We don't need you anymore. You're just holding us back.
After all, when we allow these industry groups to frame the debate about the internet and file trading as artists versus pirates, it's a false dichotomy. No one in that angry audience in Austin wants to dupe a movie to sell it on the street. That's piracy. We just want to put movies on our hard drives and iPods, share our mix CDs with each other (just like we used to do with tapes), and mash that funny video with that cool song to produce something new, something we'll give away for free.
The whole popularity of the MySpace/CDBaby market structure, as well as music recommendation/streaming radio services such as Last.fm, Pandora or Yahoo!Launch Music, is testimony to the divergence from the model the RIAA is so desperately trying to protect. And as labels merge and catalogue gets pulled, artists and listeners are forced to utilize alternative means to locate the music they want.