New York State Senate Passes Bill Limiting Use of Lyrics as Evidence

Senate Bill S7527 has previously received support from JAY-Z, Meek Mill and more.

Music
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Earlier this week, the New York State Senate passed a bill restricting the use of song lyrics as evidence in court.

According to the NY State Senate’s official website, Senate Bill S7527 is being sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and aims to limit lyrics or any other “creative or artistic expression” to be used against the defendant in criminal cases:

“The purpose of this legislation is to protect freedom of speech and artistic expression in New York State. This bill effectuates the enhanced free speech protections provided by the New York State Constitution, ensuring that criminal defendants are tried based upon evidence of criminal conduct, not the provocative nature of their artistic works and tastes.”

In order to make the lyrics and other “creative or artistic expression” admissible in court, “clear and convincing evidence” must prove that the work in question is “literal, rather than figurative or fiction, meaning and, where the work is derivative, that the defendant intended to adopt the literal meaning of the work as the defendant’s own thought or statement.”

“The purpose of this legislation is to protect freedom of speech and artistic expression in New York State,” the NY State Senate’s website reads. “This bill effectuates the enhanced free speech protections provided by the New York State Constitution, ensuring that criminal defendants are tried based upon evidence of criminal conduct, not the provocative nature of their artistic works and tastes.”

The bill has previously received public support from JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Killer Mike and Fat Joe to name a few. Hov’s attorney Alex Spiro and University of Richmond professor Erik Nielson wrote in a note signed by the rapper that “[t]his reform is urgently needed.” They added, “This tactic effectively denies rap music the status of art and, in the process, gives prosecutors a dangerous advantage in the courtroom: by presenting rap lyrics as rhymed confessions of illegal behavior, they are often able to obtain convictions even when other evidence is lacking.”

Elsewhere in entertainment, The Game called himself the “best rapper alive” while promoting his upcoming album, Drillmatic.

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