We are writing today on behalf of the music products industry to express deep frustration over a regulation that is impacting music products manufacturers as well as retailers and owners of musical instruments in the U.S. The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is a 110-year-old trade association representing the interests of manufacturers, retailers and distributors of musical instruments. Many of NAMM’s nearly 9,000 member companies are being negatively impacted by the Lacey Act, a well-intentioned law, but one with unintended consequences that we feel are damaging to our industry and the economy.
The Lacey Act was first enacted in 1900 and amended most recently in May of 2008 to include criminal liability for importing, owning, transporting or selling plant material that is illegally harvested. The wide range of interpretation possible in the law and lack of regulatory clarity has resulted in great difficulty in compliance. The confusion is due in large part to the law’s ambitious scope, including enforcement of the laws from all other countries that are the source of these natural materials.
The recent high profile raid (multiple federal agencies with automatic weapons) of Gibson Guitars, a leading NAMM member company in Tennessee, compounded with the slow response on needed guidance for compliance that we have been seeking has created fear and uncertainty for all those involved in the manufacturing, distribution and retailing of instruments and increasingly, artists and owners of musical instruments.
NAMM members care deeply and are committed to the ecologically sustainable use of tone woods for the production of musical instruments. We understand that long-term success depends upon future availability of these materials to build and sell the iconic instruments that have defined America’s popular music traditions. NAMM member products are valued and played around the world and are some of our country’s most recognizable exports. Most NAMM members are small businesses employing local artisans and others who are passionate about music and music education. They produce jobs, pay taxes and support their communities.
We cannot state strongly enough the impact that this confusion, uncertainty and threat of criminality are having on our industry even when intentions of due care and compliance are followed and documented. We have concrete ideas on how to improve the law and are ready to work with Members of Congress and federal agencies to make positive changes that will fulfill the intended vision of the Lacey Act and preserve not only the world’s forests, but the vital work of U.S. manufacturing and commerce in the music products industry.
President, Willis Music Company
President and CEO, NAMM