Lauryn Hill, Hip Hop Artist and former member of the Fugees, is back into the light, if only for a moment, to vocalize support of the FAIR (Free Artists from Industry Restrictions) Act.
Lauryn Hill, an expressive hip-hop artist, and performer, doesn’t take the stage much these days. But, typically, when she steps out, she has something profound to share. In this instance, Hill uses her voice to support a piece of legislation. If passed, artists will gain more freedom from industry controls.
The FAIR Act is a legislative bill introduced by San Jose Democratic assembly member Ash Karla to repeal an amendment to a California bill, the “Seven Year Stature.”
What is the Issue?
“The law states that if a recording artist ends their record deal after 7 years and still owes the label a specific number of undelivered albums, the label has the right to sue within 45 days to recover damages; to any undelivered albums.”
It sounds like a steep penalty to pay to make music.
What of the Seven Year Statue?
Under California Labor Code section 2855, a company cannot bind someone to a personal services agreement for longer than seven calendar years.
However, due to some collusion, recording artists were made the exception. And that is foul! Undoubtedly, it’s a cold, cruel world we live in.
What’s the Big Deal?
So virtually, the amendment holds artists captive to their record labels for an indeterminate time. Or the artist is left to pay absorbent fees without much recourse if in violation.
However, Hill, who’s been there and done the tango with the industry and her label, feels enough is enough.
Hill on the Seven Year Stature and The FAIR Act
Hill could not be vocal enough about the necessity of this legislation.
“No institution should have the opportunity to control the market by controlling the output of a creative being for some ridiculous, indefinite period.”
Her stance is solid.
Why does the Seven Year Stature Exclude Recording Artist?
The record labels banded together to ensure the clause excluded recording artists from coverage under the Seven Year Stature. Record labels broke the argument into three components. But one argument summed up the entire premise.
The label’s argument was the music industry is unique from other industries because recording artists agree to produce a specific number of delivered albums. This requirement stands even if it takes the artist 20 years, and they are stuck with terms they agreed to when they were 19 years old.
Sounds a lot like indentured servitude. And unfortunately, policymakers took the side of the labels.
What will the FAIR act do?
The FAIR act is a measure to undo what the original amendment set in place, among other things. This act will nullify the addition, restoring the original Seven Year’s Statue.
Hill is all for the needed amendments.
As Lauryn so passionately puts it
This [amended stature] is unjust, but it’s also dangerous and, at its core, a violation of the principles of free expression. Artists’ expressions Are their voices and an extension of their free speech. They should not be contained, caught up, or controlled beyond a reasonable amount of time by an institution with the money and power to obstruct and deny someone’s output indefinitely.
That’s a difficult position to oppose.
Where the Legislation Stands
The legislation is presently before the Arts Committee for a vote. And if it passes, it will progress through one more channel before being presented to the assembly. So no done deal yet.
Due to such legislation’s significant impact, FM Hip Hop will keep tabs and update as things progress.
Written by Renae Richardson