Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Environmental authorities cracking down hard on...musicians?

Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments are now increasingly afraid to take those instruments out of the country when they go on tour. A lot of old instruments contain materials (such as ivory, ebony, and various types of wood) that are now environmentally restricted. According to the Wall Street Journal, customs officials have been seizing them if their owners do not have complete documentation proving that no piece of the instrument (no matter how small) was obtained illegally. For instruments that may be 80 or 100 years old, that documentation can be very difficult or even impossible to get.

A blues guitarist (who is also a law professor) now says that he won't go out of the country with a wooden guitar. An Atlanta businessman recently tried to import several antique pianos, which clearly predated any restrictions on ivory keys. But he still faced criminal charges when he didn't have his paperwork straight, and he ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and paying a $17,500 fine in order to avoid years of prison time.

Makes sense, right? I mean, musicians are such a grave threat to ecosystems worldwide.

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