The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to make regulations governing devices that interfere with radio communications. In order for an individual to use or sell equipment that would broadcast on a common radio frequency, or possibly interfere with a radio broadcast, the individual must first seek authorization from the FCC. The FCC prohibits any person from:

  • Making
  • Importing
  • Selling or offering for sale
  • Shipping any devices or home electronic equipment which fails to meet FCC regulations

State and Local Laws

State and local governments also can make laws that disallow:

  • Use of citizens band radio equipment not authorized by the FCC
  • Unauthorized operation of citizens band radio equipment on a frequency between 24 MHz and 35 MHz

What about Equipment that Picks up Cell Phone Conversations?

The FCC has also prohibited the use of any equipment that is capable of receiving transmissions in frequencies allocated to cellular radio telecommunications (cell phones). If you have any equipment that is picking up cell phone conversations (such as a baby monitor), you should immediately report the problem to the company you bought the product from, as well as the FCC and any proper local authorities.

What Should I Do if I Want to Lawfully Use Radio Communications for Commercial Broadcast Purposes?

The FCC has a series of guidelines to follow in starting a radio broadcast. Also, you will have to apply for a license for broadcasting in order to get FCC approval of your broadcast and a radio frequency which you are legally entitled to use. Sometimes the application process can be complex, and you may want to consult a lawyer to help you understand any contracts or other legal paperwork you are filing.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Accused of Radio Piracy?

It will probably depend on the action that is threatened. If you have been threatened with criminal charges, immediately consult a criminal defense attorney to be advised of your rights and what action you should take next. If you have been threatened with a lawsuit, it would probably be in your best interest to consult a business attorney who specializes in civil suits so that you understand what you are being sued for, what your defenses are, and what the best course of action is.