Georgia lawmaker holds off on music legislation

Wednesday, February 17, 1999

The Georgia lawmaker pressing for legislation to prohibit the sale of music recordings with warning labels to minors yesterday canceled a scheduled hearing.

Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Decatur, says he's stalled action on HB 104 to give the recording industry a chance to demonstrate how it discourages individuals under age 18 from buying labeled music.

Jones said representatives from the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, Blockbuster Music and Polygram Records visited him yesterday to explain their programs.

“So we're getting some movement,” Jones said. “We're getting some things to happen.”

Jones had planned to hold a hearing on the legislation before the House Special Judiciary Committee yesterday morning. The bill would make it a misdemeanor offense for anyone to sell minors recordings bearing the RIAA parental advisory logo.

Music industry officials have lobbied heavily against Jones' bill because they say it is unfair for government to use a voluntary labeling program to enforce laws. During their meeting with Jones, they explained additional efforts on their part to educate minors and their parents about labeled music.

Joel Flatow, government affairs director for RIAA, says his group and NARM have already distributed numerous posters and placards about the parental advisory program to music retailers throughout the state. He said RIAA recently distributed a public service announcement produced by Quincy Jones to every Georgia television station.

“I think it's a great PSA, because Quincy Jones is one of a kind,” Flatow said. “He
speaks as a parent, a producer and an artist that parents should be involved in the musical choices of their kids.”

Rep. Jones said he hadn't seen the public service announcements. But, he says a number of retailers are already requiring parental approval before selling recordings with warning labels.

“I would rather for the industry to come up and do some of that,” Jones said. “But if they aren't responsible, then we will legislate. I simply want them to be accountable, like the movie industry is.”

Flatow says Jones' legislation “is wrong on its merits, and we think there are other legislators who recognize that.

“But we are very happy to work with him or any other legislator to get out the good word on our parental advisory program and parents getting involved in what their children listen to,” Flatow said. “Ultimately, that's what this is about. We share the same goal.”