RIAA’s Rosen tells House that P2P undermining warning system:
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) chairman/CEO Hilary Rosen told lawmakers yesterday (Oct. 1) that the industry’s parental-advisory labeling program is being undermined by massive downloading of unauthorized music files from peer-to-peer networks. Speaking at a House hearing reviewing music marketing and the labeling program, Rosen said that since downloads carry no stickers, the industry’s efforts to “make the advisory program better are being diluted by peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.”
Rosen quoted recent studies showing that 70% of 12- to 18-year-olds use P2P services, and that age group is 3.5 times more likely to go to a P2P site than to a record store. Rosen also pointed out new concerns for parents, saying that when youngsters search for a track by a popular artist such as Britney Spears, porn files are often among the offerings. She called on lawmakers to “ask the [Federal Trade Commission] to investigate those sites as much as they did the legitimate industry.”
Rosen and Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam and chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, expressed opposition to age- and content-related stickers, saying such labeling would not work with music as it does with video games and movies. Simmons said regulators should look “beyond words to meaning. There’s a cultural divide out there; there’s a different meaning [to lyrics], depending on who’s listening and their experiences.”
BMG was lauded by lawmakers for its decision last June to include more content-specific language below the warning sticker.
Meanwhile, the same proceedings from a different perspective:
- Capitol Hill lawmakers kept up pressure on the record business Tuesday to label music with more detailed parental warnings, saying too many of America’s kids are exposed to violent and sexually explicit lyrics.
During a hearing before a House Commerce Subcommittee, politicians said the major labels should get on the “same song sheet” as BMG, which has revised its warning system to include more specific information, indicating the type of explicit content on each record.
Rep. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-La.), Rep. Fred Upton (D-Mich.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and other members of the commerce panel said they would be delivering a letter to Recording Industry Assn. of America chair-CEO Hilary Rosen instructing Warner, Universal, EMI and Sony to respond in writing to their request.
“We have done our best to turn up the volume for the recording industry on this important issue. Some have heard us,” said Tauzin, who chairs the Commerce Committee.
Rosen, whose group lobbies on behalf of the major labels, testified that the record industry’s 17-year-old Parental Advisory Program does the job of aiding parents in determining whether to let their children listen to a particular selection.
“We created this program, have guided its development and are proud of its impact. Moreover, we value the respect and trust that we have developed with parents over the years,” Rosen said.
The labels have argued rating lyrics on an age-based system like that used in the film business is prohibitively difficult; while studios can easily identify explicit scenes in their movies, the objectionability of song lyrics is far more subjective and therefore tough to rate.
Also testifying was Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, who cautioned the lawmakers that by frequently singling out hip-hip, they risk appearing racist.
While the film and computer gaming industries have won praise from Congress in recent months for curtailing their marketing of explicit content to minors, lawmakers have been more reluctant to curb their criticism of the record biz. Many solons argue labels have been slow to pull ads for explicit records from kid-friendly media and have failed to adequately label those ads with the “parental advisory” warning.
In advance of the hearing, the RIAA sought to polish its image by announcing a partnership with the National Mental Health Assn. to “raise awareness of the positive role music often plays in addressing mental health issues.” The partnership, called Mpower, will use public service announcements, education forums and other outlets to talk to young music fans about mental health and substance abuse.
Hmm, nothing about the evils of p2p in this description. I’m still trying to figure out how file-sharing prohibits the majors – other than BMG – from more specifically labeling their releases, but I’m sure there is a connection.