Georgia House to vote on ‘labeled’ music bill

Friday, March 6, 1998

Music industry and civil liberty officials this week frantically rallied radio stations and music fans to stave off a vote Friday in the Georgia House of Representatives to prohibit sales of “labeled” recordings to minors.

If passed, House Bill 1170 would make it a misdemeanor offense for anyone to sell “any sound recording bearing the parental advisory logo imposed by the Recording Industry Association of America” to anyone under 18.

If the House approves the bill, it moves to the Senate. Georgia's legislative session ends March 19.

Music industry officials and civil liberty groups have urged the lawmakers to pass on the bill because it uses the RIAA's voluntary labeling program to enforce a law. They also say it chills free expression because it would discourage artists from recording music they think might be later banned.

Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Decatur, said last month that his bill doesn't violate free speech because “you can manufacture it, you can sell it, you can market it. But if you're going to sell it to minors, you better make sure they have an adult with them.”

The lawmaker said he's curious why the record industry has come out against the bill. He said he's merely following statements from RIAA President Hillary Rosen, who last November testified before the U.S. Senate on the benefits of restricting sales of certain music to minors.

Jones said he sponsored the bill mostly because he's worried that the record industry intentionally targets minors with recordings that include offensive and sexually charged language. He said if the recording industry responds to the bill by removing such labels “it clearly shows that they are targeting minors.”