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Musicians Caught in the Crosshairs of Illegal Ivory Trade

/ Source: Associated Press

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The Obama administration's tough new rules on the transport of items containing elephant ivory could cause a symphony of suffering for musicians. Musicians and collectors say the strategy could stop them from traveling abroad with antique and vintage instruments and may even set them up for fines or the seizure of their instruments. Arian Sheets, curator of stringed instruments for the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, said the order applies to items ranging from vintage pianos with 88 ivory keys to smaller ornamental uses such as ivory-tipped violin bows and nuts and pegs on C.F. Martin guitars. She said the directive puts the burden of proof of how the ivory was obtained on the instrument owner instead of on federal agents. "They don't have to prove anything," Sheets said. "All they have to say is, 'You don't have the right documentation,' and your object is gone."

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