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Parental Advisory Label

The RIAA owns the PARENTAL ADVISORY EXPLICIT CONTENT trademark (the “PAL Mark”) for use with respect to music and other merchandise. Any artist or record company that wishes to use the PAL Mark to label music according to RIAA’s standards may do so free of charge once they submit a License Agreement and receive a signed copy in return along with the graphic. Use of the PAL Mark on any other product or in any other manner is prohibited without the express, written permission of the RIAA. Interested parties must contact the RIAA directly at (202) 775-0101.

The music industry takes its responsibility to help parents determine what may be inappropriate for their children seriously—that’s why RIAA and its member companies created the Parental Advisory Label (PAL) program.

Children now have access to the media in ways their parents never imagined, and we provide parents with the tools they need to make the right decisions for their children while nurturing their passion for music. The PAL Mark is used to help parents recognize when inappropriate content may be present, and is applied when an artist and record company agree that there is musical and artistic credibility in a piece of recorded work even if the lyrics may be too explicit for mainstream distribution.

Recognize potentially inappropriate content

If strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse are present in a recorded work, the PAL Mark is typically applied prominently to its packaging. The PAL Mark may also appear in connection with digital music products or services or in advertising for a sound recording.

How it works

The PAL program is a voluntary initiative for record companies and artists, permitting them greater freedom of expression while also giving them the opportunity to help parents and families make informed consumption decisions.

Record companies work directly with artists to decide which releases should receive a PAL Mark to indicate explicit content. In some instances, record companies ask an artist to re-record certain songs or to revise lyrics because a creative and responsible view of the music demands such a revision. Sometimes songs are simply removed from an album altogether. When both parties decide that there is musical and artistic credibility in a piece of recorded work despite explicit lyrics, a PAL Mark is applied directly to the product’s packaging and advertising.

For more information on how to display a PAL Mark or other type of PAL Notice, please refer to the PAL Standards.

The RIAA does not represent record retailers, but works closely with the Music Business Association, the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the wireless industry, and leading technology companies to ensure that parents are forewarned when content may be inappropriate for children. Many traditional retailers also have in-store policies prohibiting the sale of records displaying the PAL Mark to those younger than 18, and many online retailers also implement parental control mechanisms.

 

Background

In 1985, the RIAA worked with the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA) and the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to address their concerns regarding explicit content in sound recordings. The organizations reached an agreement that certain music releases containing explicit lyrics, including explicit depictions of violence and sex, would be identified so parents could make intelligent listening choices for their children.

RIAA continues to administer the PAL program, and works with its member companies to update the PAL program as technology changes to account for new music delivery methods.