Friday, March 23, 2012

Intellectual Property Reform (IP Reform) Process Continues in the United Kingdom Despite Concerns of Rights Holders

The process of liberalizing copyright laws in the United Kingdom continues in spite of criticism from vested interests.

Pinsent Masons has the story at in Government stands by IP reform growth estimates despite rights holder concerns.

As in the United States, there is increasing recognition in the United Kingdom that intellectual property laws must be updated and adapted to the modern era, not only to catalyze the information industry, but also to keep vested interests from clogging up the machinery of progress.

Lacey Act Amendments of 2008 a Senseless Criminalization of Normal American Business

Why does the CEO of Gibson Guitars in America "envy" Chinese guitar manufacturers? Because they can make and sell guitars which he is not ALLOWED to make in the USA because of ill-advised US lawmaking and overzealous and selective law enforcement.

American manufacturing is no longer competitive in many sectors of the world economy and uselessly chilling federal government actions are one reason for this. Take the totally antiquated Lacey Act of 1900 as an example. The Lacey Act was amended in 2008 via the Farm Bill. As written at
"It’s a scary new world out there. Under the recently amended Lacey Act, it is possible for innocent buyers to be subject to imprisonment, civil and criminal fines up to $200,000, and forfeiture of goods. Even a simple typo on an import declaration could cost you two hundred and fifty dollars."
THE NCBFAA (National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc.) writes about the absurd Lacey Act 2008 amendments as follows:
"... The Lacey Act Amendments are primarily aimed at preventing illegal logging and illegal harvesting of protected plants and trees....
      The Lacey Act Amendments also expand the range of offenses to include any plant or tree that is taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law that protects or regulates plants.
      Another feature of the Lacey Act Amendments is a new import declaration requirement for plants/trees and "products thereof" .... The declaration must contain precise sourcing information, including the scientific name of any and all plant/wood (including the genus and species) contained in the product and the name of the country from which the plant/wood was taken, as well as the quantity and value of the plant/wood inputs. among other things.
      As the agencies and the private sector began looking at how to implement the Lacey Act Amendments, significant issues emerged that require attention....
  • ... The new law requires an import declaration stating the scientific name and source of the timber or plant that is used in the imported product.... [a] difficult requirement for manufactured products that are predominately made from wood, such as furniture, cabinets, wood toys, musical instruments and crates....
  • Violations of Foreign Law: The sweeping scope of the product coverage takes on added meaning when you consider that the Lacey Act offenses include not just violations of U.S. laws or treaties, but violation of any foreign law that protects or regulates plants or trees. There are almost 9,000 such laws in Indonesia alone. Moreover, a list of all the relevant foreign laws with which an importer is responsible for compliance does not exist. The penalties for violations of the Lacey Act offenses range from civil administrative penalties to forfeiture of the goods to criminal fines and imprisonment. In effect, the Lacey Act Amendments criminalize U.S. citizens involved in importing a wide range of products far removed from the logging process as a substitute for stronger enforcement by foreign governments in timber rich countries...."
That is Congressional legislation drafted by well-meaning idiots.

We do not doubt the good intentions of the lawmakers, but hell is paved with good intentions. You can not have incompetents drafting laws in Washington D.C.

If you buy something made of wood overseas during a vacation and bring it into the country on your home journey, and you can't trace it back to a specific "legal" tree in paper documentation (sort of a conflict there in saving the trees), you are liable to criminal penalties.
The case of Gibson Guitars is a case in point. See Lee Stranahan reporting on The Horrible Lacey Act & The Gibson Guitar Raids, where the Gibson Guitar company has survived two federal goverment raids in recent years by Department of Justice people coming in armed with live weapons (idiotic !) and behaving as if the world belonged to them, closing down factories, seizing wood, sending workers home, and playing fascist enforcer, all in the name of protecting some other country's environment better than it is being protected there. Absurd.

Consider that all this is being done by a USA that has not even seen fit to sign the eminently important environmental Kyoto Protocol, the only major nation not to do so.

Are there two different environmental standards in Washington D.C.?

Failure to sign the Kyoto Protocol has not stopped a myopic Congress in its perverted non-wisdom from thinking it can stop illegal logging outside of American borders by regulating exotic wood used inside American borders, thereby creating a massive regulatory monster, and, indeed, doing so retroactively and under the threat of criminal sanctions for clueless violators.

Who were the stupid legislators behind this idiotic legislation? Apparently, the idea is to be traced back to Congressman Ron Wyden of Oregon, as Rich Christianson reports at the Woodworking Network:
"The Lacey Act and Unintended Consequences
In November 2007 I wrote a column on the Combat Illegal Logging Act sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The measure amended the century-old Lacey Act, which banned the importation of endangered plants and animals to include wood. Widen introduced the bill as a response to a study that indicated Oregon’s plywood and flooring industries were being decimated by lower-priced Chinese imports, much of which was suspected to come from illegally harvested sources.
Shortly before his illegal logging bill passed as part of a massive Farms Appropriation Bill, Wyden, said, ““Illegal logging has been giving timber and timber product exports from countries including China an unfair advantage over U.S. companies that are following the rules. This bill will help level the playing field for American manufacturers, protect the jobs of the workers they employ and address an illegal logging crisis.”
What does the sentiment expressed by Wyden then have to do with how the Lacey Act is being enforced in the most recent raid of Gibson Guitar?
It’s hard to suspect that Wyden, other members of the then-Democrat majority Congress or President George Bush, who signed the measure into law, considered that the amended Lacey Act could lead an armed raid on wood products manufacturer, not because wood was suspected to be illegally harvested, but because it may have been too thick at 10mm as opposed to the maximum 6mm allowed by India law."
Congressmen like Wyden have no business being in Congress.

Gibson Guitars are not responsible for the world's logging practices nor should Americans be subjected to criminal liability in America for violating a foreign nation's laws. Absurd. It is lawmaking gone mad.

Indeed, even the LawPundit is the proud owner of a vintage rosewood Gibson guitar, which he bought new in college in 1965. Gibson is a great name in guitar-making and has a fantastic reputation world-wide, also here in Germany, a reputation which was built by its founder, Orville Gibson following fundamental AMERICAN values in creating his brand: prestige, quality, and innovation. Under the Lacey Act, that vintage guitar is potentially "criminal" contraband, retroactively, mind you, because the source of the wood can not be proven.

Gibson Guitars represents what American manufacturing used to be, the envy of the free world, and not the laughing stock that it is today.

Today, everyone imports cheap guitars from China, who import 95% of the world's rosewood, unfettered by stupid US laws and regulations. Who controls the wood used in THOSE guitars made in China? America can't. It is an absurd situation. Gibson has even been told by the DOJ that if they manfufactured their guitars overseas, there would be no problems.

The Gibson CEO was interviewed in Gibson CEO Envies Chinese Guitar Companies, Juszkiewicz claims costs are cheaper in China - Sonic State Amped and stated as follows:
"The federal government is still pursuing this investigation aggressively. It is wrong and it is government run amuck. It's the criminalisation of business. There are 300,000 criminal laws that businesses are subject to. Those criminal statues basically put power in non-elected officials. It's a huge burned in costs. My competitors in China, they don't have that cost. Their government is actually helping them. Go figure."
The idea that you can reduce illegal logging in foreign countries by clamping down criminally on guitar manufacturers domestically is so idiotic it does not really bear discussion.

WHAT IN GOD'S NAME are the people in federal government doing? No wonder monopolistic, shamelessly labor exploiting companies in the digital industries produce their goods overseas. Why not do legally in China and at a great profit things that if you did them in the USA would put you into prison??

In this regard, useless business criminalization in America has reached epic and absurd proportions and one of the major URGENT jobs facing the legal community in the United States is to restore sanity to this part of the legal system by putting a stop to the ridiculous criminalization of normal business.

The job of putting a stop to illegal logging is the job of the overpaid diplomats and politicians of the various nations, not companies making guitars for musicians.

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