Amendments are being proposed to a key US law which regulates timber and wood product imports.

Several members of the House of Representatives have tabled a bill which would reduce the severity of penalties imposed on companies or individuals in breach of the Lacey Act.

The bill, aimed at helping guitar retailers and musicians, is being seen as a reaction to raids on the Gibson Guitar company for alleged use of imported illegal timber for manufacturing guitars.

Aimed at both retailers and users of guitars, the bill would exempt any non-US wood that was in someone’s possession when the Lacey Act was mended to include timber (2008).

??People who are unaware they are in violation would also be exempt while smaller fines would be introduced for first-time offenders.

Bill backer Jim Cooper said that under the current legislation, anybody who travelled outside the country or across the state line could be in danger of prosecution.

The government would also be asked to create a database of sources of illegal wood and a certification scheme for legal trade.