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EMDEF: US Record Labels, Agents & Dance Business Under Threat

Author: Skruff
Thursday, March 22, 2001
The successful prosecution of three New Orleans rave promoters under 'crack-house' laws could devastate America's fast growing electronic music business, Will Patterson from the EMDEF (the Electronic Music Defence and Education Fund) told Mezz this week. "Promoters are going to stop using the word 'rave', and venue managers are going to be far more reluctant to rent to electronic music events at all," he predicted. "Secondly, if you see a reduction of say 80% of venues willing to put on electronic music acts, then it becomes much more difficult for a record label to break new artists and DJs. It's not just the clubs and promoters at risk but also the record labels, their booking agents and all the sound crews and lighting people."

The New Orleans 3 were charged with "creating an ecstasy marketplace out of dance floors and techno music" despite implementing extensive anti drug policies at their events. Rejecting plea bargains involving 12 month prison sentences, they now await the Federal Government's next move, which could see all three facing life sentences.

"These guys who've been indicted were people who were distributing harm reduction literature, had a zero tolerance drugs policy in their clubs, and hanged signs up all over the clubs saying that and also had a heavy security force, not least because they had a bar," said Mr Patterson. "They could only serve liquor (alcohol) to people over 21 but allowed in multiple ages so their security force was larger than for most clubs. Their security force was searched on August 18th, one day last year, when the DEA and local law enforcement went through the club before an event. They searched every member of staff and the entire premises to see if anybody was involved in drugs but turned up (found) nothing. It's a properly run club. The precedent would mean that promoters and managers would be held responsible for the behaviour of their clients."

Mezz: What are the implications of the trio's decision to reject the plea bargain-
EMDEF: "They (the Government) were in the process of negotiating a plea bargain and, no matter what happened, if they had agreed to the plea bargain it would have set a precedent. Donnie, Robert and Brian understood very clearly what that would mean for the entire industry and one of the most difficult things to do is to overturn a legal precedent. Had that happened it would have required another promoter or manager to be arrested under the same charges, to challenge them and win. The DEA offered very light sentences though despite that the defendants decided to fight the case. So the charges have gone back to the Grand Jury and the Grand Jury now has the option of charging them under the same charge but with multiple counts of the same charge and that creates what's called a 'continual criminal enterprise' which has a minimum sentence of 20 years."

Confirmation of the case's seriousness for the dance industry came from New Orleans police chief Richard Pennington who told local reporters last week that 'the charges can serve as a warning to others who want to bring raves to the city, that they too might be investigated for drug violations.' (The Times, Picayune) High priced bottled water, pacifiers (dummies) and glowsticks are all currently regarded as 'drugs paraphernalia" by US law enforcement.

EMDEF is backed by George Soros' Lindesmith Centre and their aim is to "raise funds and provide funds for legal assistance to innocent professionals in the electronic dance music business who are targeted by law enforcement in the expanding campaign against 'club drugs'."
Archive News: A.C.L.U: Playing Dance Music Could Get You Jailed For Life (Fund raising for the new Orleans 3, cash donations also welcomed). (Harm reduction information site, US) (Ameri