Georgia House turns down ‘labeled’ music bill

Monday, March 9, 1998

The Georgia House of Representatives late Friday killed legislation prohibiting sales of “labeled” musical recordings to minors.

After lengthy debate during which the bill was temporarily tabled then revived at the last minute, the House defeated the measure with an 86-62 vote. Bills must receive a majority—or 91 votes—to pass in the House.

Music industry officials and civil liberty groups praised the vote. For weeks, the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Associating of Recording Merchants and the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition lobbied Georgia lawmakers to vote against the measure.

They asked 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.

“I'm glad that some of the Georgia legislators realize the importance of maintaining free expression,” Nina Crowley, director of the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition said. “Hopefully, other states will take this as a message.”

House Bill 1170 would have made 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.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Decatur, was in session Monday and wasn't available for comment.

In past interviews, he said he's curious about the opposition to his bill. He said it coincides with the stated position of 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, too, said the bill wouldn't stop the sale or production of any music.

“But if you're going to sell it to minors, you'd better make sure they have an adult with them,” he said last month.