Bipartisan group of GA lawmakers want to ban ‘artistic expression’ used as evidence

A bipartisan group of lawmakers at Georgia’s state capitol just introduced a bill that would ban the use of pieces of "creative and artistic expression" as evidence in a trial.

This comes after prosecutors in the YSL case fought to use his rap lyrics as evidence against him.

"It’s about protecting the artist and protecting the artistry in the craft," said State Rep. Eric Bell, D-Jonesboro. "The impact I hope it will have is that the prosecutor will find hard evidence and not lyrics, songs, not poetry."

Rep. Bell said House Bill 990 isn’t just about the YSL case, but protecting art from being criminalized.

The protected pieces could include "expression or application of creativity or imagination in the production or arrangement of forms, sounds, words, movements, or symbols, including music, dance, performance art, visual art, poetry, literature, film, and other such objects or media," the bill states. "Evidence deemed to be creative or artistic expression shall not be admissible."

Bell points to lyrics like Bob Marley shooting a sheriff and Johnny Cash shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Neither was ever charged with a crime, and the lyrics were widely understood to be hyperbolic.

"People are performing, lyrics, specifically to make money," Bell said. "

He adds that the record industry has incentivized the production of songs about violence – because they sell.

"This is, what we’ll learn, a studio gangster," said Youn Thug’s lawyer, Brian Steel, in court. "They’re in the studio. They’re creating music for us to listen to. "

Emory University law professor Alexander Volokh says if this bill becomes law, it won’t likely affect the YSL case in a major way because the evidence was already introduced.

"If it gets passed, then the government won’t be able to introduce that sort of evidence anymore," Volokh said. "If it’s already introduced some such evidence, it’s possible that that would still be admissible because it was legal when it was admitted."

The rapper has maintained his innocence on all charges and says YSL is nothing more than a record label.

This bill is now headed to the State House’s judiciary committee for further consideration.