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PA High Court To Decide If Rap Song Was Artistic Expression Or Terroristic Threat

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard an unusual case, Tuesday, that asks whether a rap song could be considered a threat against police, and the case has first amendment implications.

The song allegedly referred to guns and bullets and referenced two Pittsburgh police officers.

The song was written and performed in 2012 and was posted on YouTube resulting in convictions on terroristic threats for two men.

Jamal Knox, 23, appealed the conviction arguing his lyrics were protected speech.

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"He took no steps to publish this song," said attorney Sara Rose.

Rose is an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania.The group filed an amicus brief arguing that state's high court must find that Knox intended to not just make the song, but also to publish it in order for the song to be a "true threat" that falls outside of first amendment protection.

"We're very concerned about people's private expression, expression they don't intend for anyone else to see, somehow getting out of control and somehow ending up online and then holding people responsible," she said.

Child pornography, fighting words and actual threats are not protected speech.

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