Laws Regarding Music Censorship
Censorship of music or any other form of expression implies that the object under scrutiny can be regulated by the government and the manner in which it is played, bought or distributed in the community can be controlled in an external agency. Music censorship may not always take the form of an outright ban. Music censorship may present itself as banned concerts, a ban on cover art, restrictions on clothing or even just parental advisory labels.
Music censorship can be undertaken by many agencies. In the United States of America, these include radio stations, television channels and even stores like Walmart. There are also organizations like the Parents’ Music Resource Center that take up the responsibility and screening and putting advisory labels on music.
Music Censorship and about laws
Unlike what most people think, the US Constitution does not encourage the government to place any restrictions on any form of music or any other form of expression. However, it is perfectly legal for other agencies to control the distribution and the purchase of music. Since the music companies are mot owned by the government, they are well within their rights to censor and to control lyrics. For this reason, when we speak of music censorship, we are essentially referring to a corporate control of music rather than a governmental one.
For instance it was in 1990 that the Parents’ Music Resource Center exerted pressure on the Recording Industry Association of America asking them to set up a uniform label stating “Parental Advisory -Explicit Lyrics”. Despite this, no guidelines regarding the advisory labels have been formulated. Music censorship in this form continues but without any strictures as such.
This is not to suggest that the government is not in the least concerned about music censorship and about laws regarding music censorship. Members of Congress have in fact; debated about how stricter vigilance can be imposed on the music industry and music censorship can be levied on music that is considered harmful or inappropriate.
In fact, in an attempt to levy some degree of control and music censorship, the Louisiana House Bill 1237 was introduced in 1997 to stop the sale and purchase of music that was considered “harmful”. The term “harmful” was defined as something that encouraged acts of rape, unlawful ritual acts, suicide, homicide and the commitment of crimes of any nature.
Music censorship is to show some degree of responsibility
The debate on whether this action of music censorship of the state is justified or not can go on forever. The music industry can and will continue to cry foul on acts of music censorship. However, what the music industry can and should do, to eliminate acts of music censorship is to show some degree of responsibility with regard to the production of music, especially in the use of lyrics. This will keep both parental bodies and state agencies at peace and uninvolved with music censorship. Lyrics that are explicit and are used to merely shock should be kept out. This is the responsibility of the music industry as a whole.
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