Londell McMillan is an entertainment lawyer who represents well-known artists like Prince, Stevie Wonder, Usher and Lil' Kim. He says record companies have a responsibility about what they choose to release. "The companies are the owners of the product. They also, in these contracts, have rights to define and determine what product they would like to distribute," Londell says. "That doesn't mean they should jump into the creativity of artists, but certainly there is responsibility there."
Londell says there are a number of legal issues the industry needs to consider:
- Corporate Responsibility: "[It's] having fiduciary duties to do what's in the best interest of the business," Londell says. Companies put out what they think will sell, he says.
- Constitutionality: "Not all speech is free speech and acceptable speech," he says. "However, we should be very careful when we want to censor. All cultures and families—they have censorship amongst the group. But not by government."
- Creativity: "Most [artists] are under pressure to be in a box. To produce a certain type of content that they're being told sells," Londell says. "There are a number of people who have the kind of integrity, the education and the support where they don't succumb. It's our job to create an environment where they don't have to succumb to what's worst in us and the pain in us—but the progress and the creativity in us."
Londell acknowledges the industry is grappling with a "very profound and complex issue," but he points out that there are many outlets in which change can take place. "At the hip-hop table, Oprah, you've got corporate America, you've got the artists and producers, you've got the consumers, and let's not forget radio," Londell says. "Radio plays this music, and just like they stopped Imus, they have an ability to stop music that offends young people."