Monday, August 6, 2012

Gibson Guitar seizure and now settlement shows absurdity of federal regulations

Can you imagine a federal policy that requires U.S. companies to export labor to other countries, or face criminal prosecution and stiff penalties if they do not?

As Fox News reports here, the feds in 2009 and 2011 seized imported wood "fingerboards" for guitars because they were made of wood product illegally exported from other countries.  However, the only reason it was illegal was that the product was not finished before shipment.  In other words, because Gibson chose to use U.S. labor, rather than foreign labor, the materials were illegal.

From the story:
The shipments of wood from Madagascar and India were deemed illegal because they were unfinished -- something those countries prohibited. However, finished fingerboards presumably would have been legal. In the Indian case, court documents said one intercepted shipment was "falsely" labeled as finished when it wasn't.

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said last year that the U.S. government essentially went after his company because the work wasn't being done in India. 

"The fact that American workers are completing the work in the United States makes it illegal," he said last year. 

Obama's final resolution of the claims: a $300,000 fine for Gibson.  Absurd.

1 comment:

  1. Last year when this was news the guitar community was abuzz. As you failed to point out in your spin, all the American law really does is respect the laws of sovereign nations as we would expect other nations to respect ours. The other American guitar makers have dealt with the issues through bargaining or using different woods. What I gathered from the online guitar community is that Juszkiewicz was just milking the Gibson brand and contributing nothing to it. That his actions might be illegal & that he would cry & howl and blame everyone else was to be expected.
    Another side to this issue is that - if you were to take your prized 1968 ES-335 to, say Italy, their customs agents could seize your guitar to determine whether the materials are all ok which is fairly impossible as nobody kept records back then & Gibson serial numbers, while unique, were pretty much random. Your guitar might sit in an Italian customs warehouse til - well, someone stole it. This problem arises with older pianos with ivory keys, too, although to a lesser extent.


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