Mudcat Café message #3215644 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #139936   Message #3215644
Posted By: JohnInKansas
30-Aug-11 - 10:37 PM
Thread Name: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
The date of original manufacture might be sufficient, although it's the prerogative of customs inspectors to seize "suspect" items and it's not really realistic for them to have records to match the serial numbers on all possible instruments to a date of manufacture, or to attempt to find correlations on the internet. There also are immense numbers of instruments with defaced or missing serial numbers (Stradivari used a pasted in piece of paper, and lots of "out of business" makers never published serial number to date correlations.)

A certification from the manufacturer stating both the serial number and the date might be helpful if you can get it.

The legality of all of the materials in the instrument goes out the window if you've replaced a bridge or nut (with ivory, tortoise shell, etc?), done inlay work (probably sea turtle?), on some instruments if you've replaced tuning pegs (ebony?), etc. The instrument may have been made with xxxx and you put xyxz on it.

Or your drunken friend stomped in the middle of it and you had the entire back (and maybe more) rebuilt with new wood (or somebody did before you acquired it). The serial number can only verify the original date of manufacture and you could have done a whole bunch of "rebuilding" solely for the purposes of smuggling little bits of prohibited "things."

(Honest people are horribly inconvenienced by the existence of dishonest persons who resemble them.)

So far as "legitimate news sources" have reported, in the prior (2 years ago) case, it was charged that Gibson falsified papers for the import of wood. It must be presumed that the raiders had evidence that an improper import did occur. In order to file charges, however, a specific culpable person must be identified. A suit against the company or its executives would require proving a "pattern of activity" that would reasonably be known to those in charge, which is generally a lot more difficult than finding one or two "guilty individuals."

In that case, the "Fed" filed suit to retain a number of seized guitars. Gibson did not file a counter suit, at least thus far. Had Gibson filed, or should they still be able to, and the Fed saw that they had no grounds to argue and win, a counter suit would most likely never go to court, and the guitars would be returned. The costs to Gibson should have been fairly nominal (esp. given the price of Gibson guitars?) in the case of a "no contest" resolution. Gibson, in that case, appears to have decided that a counter suit was a "no win" proposition, and did not, thus far, pursue the matter.

In the latest seizure, the raiders took "suspect instruments and wood stocks" and also seized a number of computers and data storage devices. If there is probably cause to believe that some materials were unlawful, and additionally if there is reason to believe that someone at Gibson was an active participant in an unlawful import, the raid and seizures appear perfectly appropriate.

Some of the contents of the warrant for the second raid have been published online, and what has been revealed does appear to indicate that the raid was a reasonable exercise of judicially sanctioned enforcement (if the information quoted is accurate). So far as I could find, almost nothing is factually known about the first raid, other than that enforcement agencies have sued for permanent relinquishing by Gibson of some seized articles. I've seen nothing thus far indicating whether that suit has proceeded, or whether Gibson still has the option of contesting the ceding of the items in question.

As in most places where "due process" means "slow process" there is NO INFORMATION FROM THE RAIDS available to the public that is adequate for deciding whether Gibson has been treated fairly or unfairly. An accurate report of exactly what happened is unlikely unless charges are filed and "something" goes to trial, or unless Gibson decides to release some factual report.

Gibson has a copy of the warrants, and I haven't heard that they've read them to us(?).

About the only thing really known is that "Mr Gibson" (the CEO - lspeaking for the company) feels "persecuted." Our sympathies for his feelings are appropriate, but at this point condemnation of "all authorities" for doing their jobs is grossly inappropriate since we have NO KNOWLEDGE of what jobs they were doing.

The ambiguity about what "wooden things" (including instruments) can be transported in international travel is an apparently significant problem. I'll confess that I haven't yet read the entire CITES code, but I'll promise to look into it if some of the rest here will 'fess up to their share of our mutual ignorance about the reality of what it actually says.

What we've already said stays said, and retractions are not required - although thoughtful explanations might be acceptable (or might best be omitted in some cases.)

John