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.
7 thoughts on “New York State passes Anti Pirate Radio law (S-5739, A-326)”
Whoo!! So the Franken-FM’s on CH 6 are still immune?
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.
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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.
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.
You say the law does not go far enough, how would you change it?