California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday that limits the use of rap lyrics in criminal court cases in the state.
Using rap lyrics as evidence in criminal proceedings has drawn criticism from many sides. Some feel that it is unfair to punish an artist or songwriter based on what they write expressively, while others perceive this decision by courts across America is unfairly infringing upon our First Amendment rights.
Two United States representatives have proposed legislation banning the use of lyrics as evidence in legal claims. The song may not be used for any purpose related to litigation, and it cannot assist or enhance criminal prosecutions either; however, there has been no movement on this bill since July, when it was referred to House Judiciary Committee members (Hank Johnson & Jamaal Bowman).
Governor Newsom has signed a bill into law that will protect artists from unfair and prejudicial prosecution. The Democratic governor said in his statement Friday this is an important step for free speech protections in California’s culture and entertainment industry, which sets trends around the world.
The new law requires California courts to consider, if relevant and provided by the party in question, testimony on how a particular genre of creative expression may be biased against certain races or ethnicities. In addition, they must also review research that demonstrates its introduction into proceedings will lead them towards an unfair outcome based on these findings while evidence rebutting those claims does exist as well.
In addition to limiting rap lyrics in California criminal court proceedings, the legislation also encompasses performances of art and literature.
The California Governor has signed the legislation while on a video call with rap artists like Meek Mill, Too $hort E-40 Killer Mike YG (of course), and Ty Dolla Sign.
“Today, we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California. Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation of all music people. The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide,” Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement on Friday.