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New York State passes Anti Pirate Radio law (S-5739, A-326)

I wrote about this before, garnering several negative comments, both from the cost and effectiveness perspectives. Prompted by the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation on Wednesday. It was refined somewhat, with frequencies specified in the AM broadcast and FM broadcast band.  The revised writing softens the criminality somewhat, making the first offense a class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses class D felonies.

It also broadens the enforcement actions to allow seizure and destruction of radio transmission equipment, antennas, computers, and studio equipment used during the act. The law provides no provision for part 15 broadcasting, which is defined as license free operation under FCC rules.

The law amends the NY State Penal code, by adding section 190:

S 190.72 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND DEGREE.
 A PERSON IS GUILTY OF AN UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND
 DEGREE WHEN SUCH PERSON:
 1.  KNOWINGLY  MAKES OR CAUSES TO BE MADE A RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THIS
 STATE, ON RADIO FREQUENCIES ASSIGNED AND LICENSED BY THE FEDERAL  COMMU
 NICATIONS  COMMISSION  FOR USE BY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUEN
 CIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN  THE  FREQUEN
 CIES  OF  88  MHZ TO 108 MHZ, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A LICENSE OR
 OTHER AUTHORIZATION FROM THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, OR  DULY
 AUTHORIZED FEDERAL AGENCY; OR
 2.  KNOWINGLY  CAUSES,  EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, INTERFERENCE TO
 ANY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR
 FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 88 MHZ TO 108  MHZ  WITHOUT
 AUTHORIZATION  BY  THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION OR DULY AUTHOR
 IZED FEDERAL AGENCY.
 ANY EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,
 TRANSMITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE SUCH
 ILLEGAL  RADIO  TRANSMISSIONS  SHALL  BE  SUBJECT  TO  SEIZURE AND, UPON
 CONVICTION, SUBJECT TO DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO  ARTICLE  FOUR  HUNDRED
 SEVENTEEN OF THIS CHAPTER.
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE  SECOND DEGREE IS A CLASS A
 MISDEMEANOR.

S 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 190.73  to  read
 as follows:

S 190.73 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE.
 A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST
 DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE COMMITS THE CRIME  OF  UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANS
 MISSION  IN THE SECOND DEGREE PURSUANT TO SECTION 190.72 OF THIS ARTICLE
 AND HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONVICTED WITHIN  THE  PRECEDING  TEN  YEARS  OF
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE SECOND DEGREE. ANY EQUIPMENT,
 INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED  TO  THE  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER  CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE SUCH ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE  AND,  UPON  CONVICTION,
 SUBJECT  TO  DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO ARTICLE FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTEEN OF
 THIS CHAPTER.  UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE IS A CLASS D
 FELONY.

S 3. The penal law is amended by adding a new article 417 to  read  as
 follows:
 ARTICLE 417
 SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS
 SECTION 417.00 SEIZURE  AND  DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANS
 MITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED  TO
 PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.

S  417.00  SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.
 ANY EQUIPMENT UTILIZED IN VIOLATION OF SECTION  190.72  OR  190.73  OF
 THIS  CHAPTER MAY BE SEIZED BY ANY POLICE OFFICER UPON THE ARREST OF ANY
 INDIVIDUAL IN POSSESSION OF THE SAME. UPON FINAL  DETERMINATION  OF  THE
 CHARGES,  THE COURT SHALL, UPON NOTICE FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ENTER
 AN  ORDER  PRESERVING  ANY  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,  MASTER
 CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANS
 MISSIONS FOR USE IN OTHER CASES, INCLUDING A CIVIL ACTION.  THIS  NOTICE
 MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE CHARG
 ES.  THE  COST  OF STORAGE, SECURITY AND DESTRUCTION OF ITEMS SO ORDERED
 FOR PRESERVATION AND USE AS EVIDENCE IN A CIVIL  ACTION,  OTHER  THAN  A
 CIVIL  ACTION  UNDER  ARTICLE  THIRTEEN-A  OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW AND
 RULES INITIATED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SHALL BE  PAID  BY  THE  PARTY
 SEEKING  PRESERVATION  OF  THE  EVIDENCE  FOR A CIVIL ACTION. IF NO SUCH
 ORDER IS ENTERED WITHIN THE THIRTY DAY PERIOD, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY  OR
 CUSTODIAN  OF THE SEIZED PROPERTY MUST CAUSE SUCH ITEMS TO BE DESTROYED.
 DESTRUCTION SHALL NOT INCLUDE AUCTION,  SALE,  OR  DISTRIBUTION  OF  THE
 ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL FORM.

Law takes effect on November 1, 2011.

In order to gain a conviction, some amount of evidence would be needed.  Signal strength measurements and or spectrum analysis would be a minimum requirement, in addition to any equipment seized.

Discuss.

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7 comments to New York State passes Anti Pirate Radio law (S-5739, A-326)

  • Chris

    Whoo!! So the Franken-FM’s on CH 6 are still immune?

  • Paul Thurst

    In as much as the Franken-FMs are licensed; yes, however you bring up a good point. It seems that 87.9 is below the FM band as defined by this law, so operation there would be immune from prosecution. Of course, the FCC could still take enforcement action.

  • This law opens up a pile of liability for the state as I highly doubt a typical peace officer is going to know the difference between a Part 15 radio station / device from a pirate station. This law could conceivably put any campus-limited radio station, hobbyist, real estate agent using those “talking sign” transmitters and even folks with FM modulators for iPod-like devices potentially on the hook for legal action against them. It seems the people who write these laws fail to perform proper research when coming up with this stuff. In addition, according the the information we received from the FCC in DC, a state law can’t take precedence over a federal law. I suppose it will take one unlucky person getting pinched to put it all to the test.

    Bill DeFelice
    Former Chief Engineer
    WMMM-AM / WCFS-AM 1260
    Westport, Connecticut

    Webmaster – HobbyBroadcaster.net / CampusBroadcaster.net
    Webmaster – History of Westport Connecticut Radio – WMMM Tribute Site

  • Just a good example of why state legislators should not dabble in communications law– they should leave the role of protecting radio capitalists to the professional corporate radio lapdogs at the Federal Communications Commission.

  • freddy

    I don’t believe this law goes far enough and the explaination even less. I work with the FCC in many states to eliminate the FM pirate broadcasts. This law has been implimented in other states and does the job. Police and FCC agents have done nothing but good things to enforce the law and protect legitimate licensed broadcasters. Reason this law was brought to NY was to eliminate interference by illegal station and owners who buy cheap equipment and cause spurrious emission not only through the FM band but also across FAA frequency bands and emergency responder frequencies. I’ve seen both first hand and the issues they can cause.

  • Paul Thurst

    You say the law does not go far enough, how would you change it?

  • […] legislation is slightly different from the anti-pirate laws in NY and Florida as it appears the unauthorized operators would be liable for civil and not criminal […]

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