Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feds Promise Not to Persecute Guitar Owners

Feds won't target unwitting owners of illegal wood
Federal officials say that people who unknowingly possess musical instruments made with illegal wood products do not face prosecution.

In a letter to Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, officials with the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department say enforcement efforts are focused on those "removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them."

The letter responds to correspondence from Blackburn raising concerns over recent raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville.
1976 Gibson J-45
Epiphone G-400

I was a little worried about my 1976 Gibson J-45 and my mid-90s Epiphone G-400 (Epiphone is made by Gibson).  But then I looked at the Lacey Act, and found that while it was originally passed in 1900, the provisions on foreign plants were added in 2008, so my guitars should be grandfathered.

Curiously, the former Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (the head boss, not the clerical worker) Larry Small, got into a little trouble over the the possession of illegal foreign animal parts.  It seems he had some Amazonian Indian artifacts made with genuine feathers as decorations in his office, a violation of several laws including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

Previous posts on the Federal raid on Gibson Guitars here and here.

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