Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gibson And Guitar Owners May Get A Reprieve

I recently posted about the raids on Gibson Guitars by the US Fish & Wildlife Services for supposedly violating the Lacy Act and using protected wood in their instruments, and about the possible negative repercussions to guitar owners in the U.S. as a result.

A violation of the Lacey Act could mean guitars, violins and other instruments built before 2008 – when lawmakers added woods to the Lacey Act’s list of endangered plants and animals to protect – could be seized at airports by inspectors if the owner of the instrument couldn't produce documentation of where the individual wood pieces came from. Yeah, like that's possible.

Thankfully, two Tennessee congressman unveiled a plan to amend the Lacey Act in response to those raids, which would protect guitar owners and manufacturers alike. The revised bill, which supposedly has bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, would:
• exempt guitars, antiques and other items manufactured before May 22, 2008 (when wood protections were added), from the ban on importing or exporting endangered woods
• require federal agencies to compile and make public a database of the wood import and export laws for each nation
• eliminate penalties for those who “unknowingly” violate the Lacey Act
• and reduce the paperwork required for importers and exporters of plant and wood products.
This is not a done deal however. Timber and environmental associations (strange bedfellows they are) are lobbying congress hard to preserve the status quo. Obviously, timber groups think that the Lacy amendment would undercut the U.S. forest industry, but we're talking relatively small numbers of specialty lumber here. It would hardly make a rounding error in the bottom line of the industry.

I'm as much for environment protections as the next tree hugger, but we're talking about a renewable resource that, if managed properly, can help several economies and still have little impact on the local environment. Keep your fingers crossed that this amendment will get done.
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1 comment:

Luke Brouillette said...

Just wondering - why put "unknowingly" in quotes. That would indicate that you mean to say knowingly. If the Lacy act was knowingly violated, wouldn't that be wrong? Why eliminate the penalties?

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