Congress Threatens Live Music
Congress is considering two bills that would hold bands, DJs, bartenders, promoters, venue owners, radio stations and others liable if a patron uses drugs at a nightclub or concert. Legal experts and business owners warn the legislation would devastate the music industry and could spell the end of live music, especially large music festivals like South by Southwest and Burning Man. Music fans, bar and nightclub owners, and music promoters are launching a national campaign to defeat the legislation.
The Ecstasy Awareness Act (H.R. 2962) would throw anyone in jail who "profits monetarily from a rave or similar electronic dance event knowing or having reason to know" some event-goers may use drugs at the event. Similarly, Section 305 of the CLEAN-UP Act (H.R. 834) makes it a federal crime - punishable by up to nine years in prison - to promote "any rave, dance, music, or other entertainment event, that takes place under circumstances where the promoter knows or reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed."
Under the provisions of both bills, almost any music promoter, nightclub owner or arena or stadium owner could be fined and jailed, because a reasonable person knows that some people use marijuana and other drugs at musical events. Business owners could be prosecuted even if they are not involved in drugs - and even if they take steps to stop drug use on their property.
Dozens of music promoters and bar owners, as well as national groups such as the ACLU, American Beverage Licensees (which represents thousands of bars and nightclubs), and the International Association of Assembly Managers (which represents arena and stadium managers), signed letters to Congress earlier this year warning that the CLEAN-UP Act "is a threat to free speech and musical expression, and will undoubtedly harm innocent business owners."
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