ARTISTS, INDUSTRY LEADERS, LEGAL EXPERTS JOIN TOGETHER TO PROTECT BLACK ART



ARTISTS, INDUSTRY LEADERS, LEGAL EXPERTS JOIN
TOGETHER TO PROTECT BLACK ART


NEW YORK, PRNewswire -- Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have joined together in a call to “Protect Black Art,” publishing an open letter in The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging legislators across America to
limit how creative expression can be used against defendants on trial. Specifically, it calls for an end to the racially discriminatory practice of treating rap lyrics as confessions.

The lengthy list of diverse signatories includes companies
such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal
Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, and Atlanta-based LVRN and Quality
Control, AEG Presents, Audiomack, Deezer, Live Nation Entertainment, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDAL,
TikTok, and YouTube Music; organizations like the American Association of Independent Music, the American Civil Liberties Union, Artist Rights Alliance, Black Music Action Coalition, Black Women’s Roundtable, BLD PWR, Color Of Change, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, NYU Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, People For the American Way, PEN America, Rap Coalition, the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America, Red Hot, Sankofa.org, Songwriters of North America, Sony Music Group’s Global Social Justice Fund, and Warner Music Group / the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s Social Justice Fund.

Drafted and published by Warner Music Group (WMG), the letter
reads in part:

Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph.

Experts have found more than 500 cases involving rap as evidence in public records, and they note this number is just the tip of the iceberg. For the most part, this does not account for indictment proceedings, juvenile cases, or cases that end in a plea bargain, and plea bargains are an overwhelming majority of outcomes in criminal prosecutions. Meanwhile, researchers have found only four instances since the 1950s of non-rap lyrics being
submitted as evidence – three of those cases were thrown out, and the fourth was overturned after conviction.

Legislators at the state and federal level are already taking action. Governor Newsom recently signed a bill into law in California, and there are bills currently under consideration in New York and New Jersey, as well as the RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Act introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson and Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the U.S. Congress.

The #ProtectBlackArt movement began earlier this year when Liles and Greenwald launched a change.org petition, which today has nearly 65,000 signatures.

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