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Instrument Makers Look To Tweak Wood Import Laws Instrument Makers Look To Tweak Wood Import Laws

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Instrument Makers Look To Tweak Wood Import Laws

Members of the National Association of Music Merchants met with more than 40 lawmakers and staffers Thursday in an attempt to tweak a law that restricts what kind of plants and animals can be imported to the United States.

A 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act, which was enacted in 1900, made it illegal to own wood, or an instrument made from it, that violated import laws. The problem, NAMM says, was that the amendment was retroactive, meaning that if you bought a guitar in 1985 made from wood imported illegally, even if you did it unknowingly, you would be violating the Lacey Act in 2011.

"The law is written with liability from the stump to the product, from the stump to the owner," said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM's director of public affairs and government relations.

NAMM supports the overall intention of the Lacey Act, it said, but it is also throwing its weight behind a bill introduced last month by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). The bill -- the Relief Act -- would exempt wood imported and instruments made before the 2008 amendments from its restrictions.

The firms Golin Harris and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough were helping NAMM with the effort.

The 17 members of NAMM meeting with lawmakers were working on building support for the Relief Act and on introducing a similar bill in the Senate. Luehrsen said so far she has received positive feedback from Democratic and Republican lawmakers. 

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