ILDA's power and limits as a trade association
What ILDA is: a trade association
Since it was founded in 1986, ILDA has been a trade association. This means it is a group of companies and individuals, who have a common interest -- laser shows and displays. The Members have banded together for some common goals and activities. A list is here.
What ILDA is not: a professional association
ILDA is not a professional association.
Professional associations are for doctors, lawyers, architects and others who have passed tests or otherwise proven their knowledge in an area. Some of these groups actually create and administer the tests; other associations are for those who have already passed the tests.
However, there are no accreditation tests for laserists. Anyone can start a laser company and do laser shows. (Of course, they should follow government laws and regulations. But this does not say anything about the quality or expertise of the company.)
How a company or person becomes an ILDA Member
To be a Member of ILDA, three things are required:
Can't ILDA pre-screen members?
Some people ask why ILDA can't further restrict membership. They think ILDA should be like a private club or a fraternal association with pre-screened Members.
The short answer is that it is illegal for a trade association to allow existing Members to approve prospective members. Otherwise, a trade association's members could keep out competitors. Such "blackballing" violates anti-competitive (antitrust) laws. These laws are strongest in the U.S., where ILDA is incorporated. However, they also exist in other areas such as the U.K. and the European Union:
Why this is important
What this means is that ILDA is a trade association of independent companies interested in laser shows and displays. ILDA does not pre-screen companies. ILDA cannot promise or prove that its Members have a certain level of knowledge.
ILDA can promise that if there is a problem with a Member, and a complaint is filed with the Ethics Committee, then we will try to resolve the problem. This alone is a good reason to choose an ILDA Member over a non-Member.
ILDA Professional companies have accredited experience
ILDA runs a separate program, ILDA Accredited Professional Lasershow Company, where companies submit documentation about their experience and knowledge. If they meet minimum requirements, ILDA then accredits them as an "ILDA Professional" company. This is different from Membership, since an ILDA Pro company does not necessarily have to be an ILDA Member.
ILDA remains a trade association. We welcome everyone with an interest in laser shows and displays. We assume that companies and individuals who join ILDA want to perform at a higher level and are proud of their work.
Because Members are bound by the Code of Ethics and the Code of Business Practice, and because ILDA does enforce these, this is a strong reason to prefer ILDA Members over non-members.
However, we do not supervise Members' shows or equipment. We believe our Members all have a basic knowledge of important safety concepts, but ILDA cannot say for certain that a Member's show is safe or meets all legal requirements. We cannot guarantee the quality of any given Member.
Potential clients seeking additional reassurance should consider hiring ILDA Accredited Professional Lasershow Companies, who have documented experience and knowledge. A list of ILDA Pro companies is here.