NEW ORLEANS, JULY 12 -- Members of the music industry in Louisiana today urged Gov. Buddy Roemer to veto a record-labeling law and to allow dealers to voluntarily control what records minors can buy.
"Our plan is to have every record dealer in the state voluntarily sign a pledge that they will not sell records with explicit lyrics to minors," said Shea Dixon, a lawyer and businessman who has been working to persuade the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to build its proposed Grammy Hall of Fame in New Orleans.
"That's pretty much what's being done now. This just formalizes it," Dixon said.
Record dealers told a news conference they have a standing policy of not selling minors records that deal with sex, drugs or violence.
State Sen. William Jefferson said the legislation awaiting Roemer's action is unconstitutional. Dealers said it's confusing.
"This law is so broadly drawn we're not sure what's off limits. It could ban everything from Frank Sinatra to Hank Williams," said William L. Berry, president of Warehouse Records and Tapes.
The Record Industry Association of America's voluntary labeling system that went into use July 1 effectively singles out explicit records, said Freddie Szilagi, manager of Tower Records in New Orleans.
"We don't sell explicit records to minors, but under this law we couldn't even have them out on the shelf. I'd have to cordon off a section of my store that would be for adults only," Szilagi said.
In a pledge to be sent to the governor, record dealers agreed not to sell a minor any recording that bears the RIAA's or any other manufacturer-imposed warning, or one the dealers find should be so labeled.
The bill before Roemer would require the labeling of any recording that promotes or has as its central theme illegal use of drugs and alcohol, violence, ritualistic acts or certain kinds of sexual behavior.