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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feds Want More of Gibson's Wood

It seems that the Feds have it in for Gibson Guitars. Not satisfied with their recent raid and confiscation of tone woods, the Fish And Wildlife Service has asked Gibson to hand over an additional 25 bundles of Indian wood that the company planned to use in guitars.

The June shipment of 1,250 sawn logs from India was classified as "finished parts of musical instruments," which is allowed under Indian law. In reality, according to the sworn affidavit of Fish and Wildlife Service agent Kevin Seiler, the wood was unfinished, which is a violation of the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act, originally passed by Congress in 1900, was amended in 2008 to include protection for certain wood and endangered animal species, which totally makes sense, but it also makes it illegal to import plants or wildlife into the U.S. if those goods are harvested in a way that violates the laws of another country.

That's the whole crux of the matter. Because Indian workers didn’t create the final product, the wood is not legally eligible to be exported, which means that we may be seeing more and more guitars made from inferior tone woods in the future. This just about eliminates the use of any tone woods not harvested in the United States, and most of the good forests are protected already.

Let's see - protect our forests or get good tone? A tough choice for some, but simple for others. Which side are you on?
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Dan said...

Unfortunately the easiest resolution for a company is to not import the wood but to export the job so they are importing the finished part.

Josh said...

Protect the forests! It's not like good tone will go away; you'll just have to pay more for it.

Besides, based on the number of dusty guitars I've seen in people's closets, there is a surplus of guitars in the world.

Anonymous said...

Trees are a renewable resource.
Grow more, make'm genetically modified for tone. Chop'm the heck down and git a strummin!

Steve a roonie said...

This is gub-mint run amok. The scariest words one can hear is: 'I'm from the Govt. and I'm here to help you'.
If you want more of this kind of thing in the next five years, then leave things the way they are.

Scott said...

I'm afraid Dan hit the nail on the head. The easiest solution is to send the jobs overseas. If the product is made in India it is legal.
Good job, let's run more jobs overseas.
Is the DW drum factory next?

CaptainVictory said...

Protect our forests or get good tone? How about protect our liberty? That's also at stake here, because the Lacey Act is an overly broad statute that practically encourages abuse.

For example, ten years ago, the officers of a small business were imprisoned under the Lacey Act because they imported lobster tails in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes. All three men received eight-year prison sentences.

A 65-year-old man with Parkinson’s Disease received a 17-month sentence for importing orchids with sloppy labels. During the raid, this feeble old man was reportedly shoved against a wall by armed officers and forced into a chair. The officers then searched his home without explaining why.

Now, Gibson is getting raided, and its employees threatened with prison time, because it imported Indian hardwood that was documented as legal, but which some DoJ shoe clerk has determined to be technically illegal. I call bullshit.

Yes, any law can be abused, but the Lacey Act is so vague that it practically invites government overreaching. It doesn't just impose foreign laws on American buyers, it imposes bureaucrats' INTERPRETATIONS of those laws. Those interpretations may be completely at odds with those of the foreign country. As a result, you see criminal prosecutions for absolutely inconsequential shit. What's more, there's no intent element. So even if you've been led to reasonably believe that your import is 100% legal, tough luck -- you're going to jail.

Taking your property or liberty because some unelected government lackey has a dubious problem with your paperwork -- or worse yet, because it's politically desirable -- is unAmerican. I care about our liberty more than I do about a renewable forest or even good tone!

Mario said...

Maybe it's time for a paradigm shift. Yeah, protect our forest and find an alternative source for tone. It's all subjective anyway. Rainsong guitars sound great and it's made of fiber composite. We whine about government this, government that, jobs going overseas... and the solution is destroy the environment? Well, instead of defaulting to shipping jobs overseas, it's really time for people to think outside the box. Isn't that what Americans are well known for?


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