The advent of streaming has no doubt mostly been a positive development for the music industry, allowing consumers and music fans to stay connected to the artists and songs they love with the click of a few buttons, while simultaneously combating piracy.

But another nascent threat looms on the horizon, in much the same way that Napster did when it first arrived at the turn of the century.

There’s a great opinion piece at Variety written by Mark Gillespie that lays out the cards and it breaks down like this: Web 3.0, in tandem with high speed 5G, will theoretically decentralize the internet, like a return to its early days.

Not only will these decentralized networks be built on blockchain technology–something many in the music industry are still trying to wrap their heads around–but the challenges these networks will pose to existing copyright law could have far reaching implications.

In the post-Napster era, many were dissuaded from distributing/collecting pirating material online because their IP addresses could be tracked–not so with decentralized networks, which are protected by cryptography.

It’s a complicated issue–and one that the music industry and digital rights management experts will have to tackle.