The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) announced today its support for new legislation introduction by U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) that will clarify a broad federal law so that musical instrument manufacturers, retailers and resellers—among many others including musicians—would not be subject to penalties for unknowingly possessing illegal woods.
The Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (RELIEF) Act clarifies the Lacey Act, which Congress updated in 2008 in an effort to disrupt illegal logging.
“In theory, anybody who travels outside the country or even across the state line with an old guitar right now would be in legal jeopardy,” Cooper states. “The RELIEF Act protects them. It makes sure all the magnificent instruments played, traded and created in Nashville and elsewhere can make their way around the world.”
The well-intentioned law has been effective in targeting illegal logging. But it also left anyone with a product containing certain rare wood or plant materials subject to federal penalties. This encompasses everyone from musicians to dealers of antique furniture.
The new RELIEF Act does three essential things:
Grandfathering: Any foreign wood products that a person owned before May 22, 2008 (the date the Lacey Act amendments were signed into law) will be exempt from the law.
Protection: If a person has any wood that violates Lacey but didn’t know it, he or she will not be penalized, and the government cannot confiscate that individual property.
Access: The government should compile a database of forbidden wood sources on the Internet so that everyone is fairly warned.
The RELIEF Act preserves punishments for those who knowingly violate the Lacey Act. It also keeps in place existing laws that seek to disrupt illegal logging practices. The RELIEF Act does not affect ongoing cases under the Lacey Act.
“NAMM applauds the swift action taken by Rep. Cooper in creating the RELIEF Act and pledges our support to this effort,” states Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM.” “NAMM’s goal since the Amendments in 2008 is to inform regulators and help legislators make positive changes to the Lacey Act that will preserve not only the world’s forests, but the vital work of U.S. manufacturing and commerce in the music products industry—and we believe the new RELIEF Act moves us closer to achieving this goal.”
For the latest information about the Lacey Act and its impact on the music products industry, please visit www.namm.org/publicaffairs
Read the RELIEF Act here (pdf).