Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Feds Threaten Gibson And Artists Again

Gibson logo image file from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Last year I reported about how the US Department of Justice and the US Fish And Wildlife Service raided Gibson Guitars not once, but twice on the grounds that the company was using protected wood from overseas in the making of their guitars (you can read about it here, here, here and here). During the raids, not only were pallets of wood confiscated, but computers containing information about the wood as well.

The Justice Department claimed that Gibson somehow violated the 112 year old Lacey Act, which was originally instituted to regulate the trade in bird feathers for hats, but was amended in 2008 to include wood and plants, with the express intent of protecting certain species of wood from being over-harvested. Gibson claimed that any exotic foreign wood that they use in the creation of instruments came from certified Forest Stewardship suppliers, so there was never a violation.

After Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander got involved, it seemed like everything was smoothed over; until now.

It seems that word has recently come down from the Justice Department that it's planning to raid summer concerts in order to seize what they deem to be illegal guitars made from banned tone woods. Another possibility is that guitars could be seized from musicians returning from out of the country tours at the border by Customs agents.

The governments actions seem to make no sense on so many levels.

1) Gibson seems to have presented adequate proof that the tone woods used were legally sourced.

2) Even if that's not the case, seizing an instrument from an end user that's unknowingly paid a good deal money in a purchase without any compensation is just wrong. Seize the guitars at the factory if you must, but don't treat the end users as criminals too.

3) Expand that to the concert scene. Imagine going to see an act that suddenly had their favorite instrument confiscated by the government. That's not going to help their performance any; one that you paid a lot of money to see.

4) It's an election year. This action can't possibly make many many friends for the administration, and will most certainly alienate a number of solid constituencies.

Come on, Justice Department. Let's concentrate on more important things. Everyone is for protecting endangered forests, but there's got to be a better way than this.

Thanks to Rob Carty for the heads-up on this story. You can read more about it here.

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5 comments:

Steve A. Roonie said...

So everybody thinks this is OK by the lack of comments?
That's how they do it. Little by little until nobody cares anymore.

Anonymous said...

Didnt your last post on this topic contain a link to a video where some government flunky stated that "the government had no intention of targeting individual musicians"?

If this is true, why am I not surprised?

Bobby Owsinski said...

Yes, the Feds made a statement that they wouldn't target musicians. I guess they've forgotten.

CaptainVictory said...

Anonymous -- You are 100% correct. Here's a link to the .gov's statement from about eight months ago:

http://is.gd/Hm6A4K

Anonymous said...

Remember:
Use a guitar,
go to jail!

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