Amateur Radio: Catch 22?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KD4AEN, Sep 4, 2009.

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  1. KD4AEN

    KD4AEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    W0WLS was told by Laura Smith that one cannot in any case at all, use an amateur rig while at their workplace, as he took part in an amateur radio exercize and someone reported him to the FCC for a violation of Part 97.113 and she personally communicated with him that he was in the wrong.

    Given that conversation, it would seem that Laura may have created a catch 22 situation. Given Laura's comment to W0WLS, it would then seem that almost any situation one could think of would be counted as illegal use of an amateur rig. Especially for those who are emergency volunteers, or those who are taking the ARRL Emcomm course, even the FEMA courses.

    See, it says that no amateur operator may receive any type of pay or gift in exchange for amateur communications. It says you cannot perform communications for an employer. Let's examine this a bit:

    It takes WORK to pay for the ARRL membership which comes with certain "benefits" such as the opportunity to take certain "amateur radio skills courses" and scholarship programs, and then there are contests that take place on the air and "awards" are given for such, then there is the fact that there are the "magazine cover contests" in which the said amateur gets openly recognized in QST.

    Various emergency operations centers who have amateur rigs on their premises often give free food and drinks to the amateurs who come in during times of need to operate, there are clubs all over the U.S. who do communications support for various special events in coordination with ARES / RACES and they are given "free" shirts with the event name on them, free food, free water, and maybe even a recognition from their club in the form of a certificate or something...I would call that compensation under Laura's interpretation.

    Let's talk now about the various amateur radio suppliers...they employ LICENSED amateurs on their staff to sell or repair rigs and these amateurs are being PAID for their time as company employees. Well, geez, the company REQUIRES an amateur license to be an employee! That takes the "amateur" out of what we do as far as the voluntary aspect goes.

    It isn't JUST the city and county governments across the nation requiring their people to get amateur licenses, it's alot of other "employers" too. I say if Laura is going to enforce this fairly and not split hairs, she needs to fire off memo's to all of the RACES folks, ARRL ARES groups and ARRL HQ, ALL of the EOC's nationwide, HRO, AES, and any individual amateur who is in "business" selling and repairing amateur equipment that they cannot charge for their services and cannot legally sell equipment while holding an amateur license.

    But, if she did that, AES, HRO, and many other amateur outlets in the U.S. would likely go out of business because only a radio amateur would be interested in working in a place like that, especially given that these companies REQUIRE an amateur license. Now, they would have to hire commercial radio techs to sell and repair the equipment on - site and would have to pay them a higher wage. This would for some time create a shortage of amateur gear in the U.S. from which individual amateurs could profit. They could come here on QRZ, E-Ham, or even E-Bay to sell their equipment for exorbitant prices.

    It's the equivalent of getting paid for being an amateur operator. Also, under Laura's rule, one should not be allowed to "sell" amateur equipment and should be told instead that they can only give it away or trade it with another amateur without receiving anything in return. The rule says "direct or indirect".

    Under Laura's interpretation of the rule, it would appear that using one's amateur transceiver while at work just to rag chew is illegal even if work and even if the employer isn't mentioned. It would appear that salaried employees of any company should have their licenses yanked because they are always considered "on-duty" 24-7 given their salaried status and they use their amateur rigs at home while "on-duty". Which would seem to exclude MANY from the amateur emcomm circle or even other VOLUNTEER work involving amateur radio because they are receiving a salary even in their "off time".

    Is it time to tell the FCC to re-think the appropriateness of amateurs being employed at amateur radio outlets in the business of selling/repairing amateur equipment and time to tell the FCC to re-think amateur radio emcomm altogether? Maybe time to say good-bye to amateur radio emcomm? Afterall, people are earning certificates of achievement and mentions in QST for their "training" and "heroism".

    I know of amateurs who use their license status on their resume's to indicate they have some sort of "requisite character" or "technical skill" and this goes toward personal gain and "pecuniary interest". Some employers are actually naive enough to recognize these people and say "we can use this guy because he has all these achievements so he's obviously smart" and bingo! This guys now has a job which he used his status as a licensed amateur emcomm volunteer to get.

    Where does this rule end? How far is Laura going to take this before we are all in violation, given her statement to W0WLS? Can we not use our amateur rigs on the way to work now because we have a pecuniary interest in using our cars to get to work? Also, your apartment or home is required to have a place to sleep and you need an address to get an education and a pay check, there's pecuniary interest there too! Now, you're in violation because you are using an amateur rig in a place where there is income being generated by just living there since no one will employ a homeless person.

    Let's now mention those few hams who work at home. They would seemingly be in violation of 97.113 because they get on the air while at their "workplace" and it is done in their own interest since they are self-employed or working for someone at their home. Sure, they take a break and maybe get on their HF rig or something. They live and WORK there.

    Has Laura's conversation with W0WLS put us all in a catch 22?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2009
  2. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is a difference between using your HR at work, and using it for your employer. That is what the rule prohibits.

    Joe
     
  3. KD4AEN

    KD4AEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, but how does the FCC know under any of the things I mentioned that you are not using your rig "for" your employer. You are at work, period. You could easily be reported for using it "for" your employer just on perception.

    You could be reported as using your rig "for" your employer while in your car on the way to work, perception, remember?
     
  4. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use a radio here at work all the time. I test and repair them here. When I had a wire outside, I made contacts. I was NOT PAID to make contacts, and it was after hours, but it was AT WORK. There are times I have brought a HT to work and listened to repeaters. Even talked on repeaters DURING WORK HOURS. Am I in violation???? I DON'T THINK SO!!!

    I would take this issue to the Supreme COURT!!!

    Using a radio on company time is NOT the same as using it for business communications. Hams talked to were not customers. Nothing was said regarding what my company does. I could have been in the building or out in my car, doesn't make any difference.

    Laura needs to clarify this, as using a radio at work is NOT the same as using a radio for business comm.
     
  5. K8MHZ

    K8MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would like to see proof of that conversation, please.
     
  6. NE3R

    NE3R Ham Member QRZ Page

    When you apply a little common sense to the issue, it isn't that hard to figure out. I've said before, I'm often being paid while using the radio, but I'm not being paid for using the radio. I like to get on the air during the day if I'm driving between customers, or if I'm waiting for someone, time that is considered part of my work day, but has nothing to do with the radio.

    I think the confusion comes in for folks that work in emergency services, etc. Could a firefighter or hospital worker check into an ARES net while on the clock?

    73 de Joseph Durnal NE3R
     
  7. WR5AW

    WR5AW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Count me in on that one. Sounds fabricated to me.
     
  8. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Although there are some gray areas in this, when you look at the main intent of the law, the distinctions are pretty clear. The whole intent of "without pecuniary interest" is that Amateur Radio is never supposed to COMPETE with any Commercially available communications systems. This doctrine is as old as radio, and, unfortunately, many current EMCOMM practices are CLEARLY in violation of that.

    Now, I write a lot of Amateur Radio technical articles, for which I get paid. In a sense I am getting paid to do ham radio. But none of this activity is in coompetition with commercial communications. I am not taking business away from any commercial enterprise.

    Likewise, I could run an amateur radio store with impunity.....selling amateur radios is not conpeting with commercial radio business....unless, of course, I get on the EMCOMM bandwagon in the process. Or, if I should have advertisements such as: AVOID LONG DISTANCE PHONE BILLS; GET A HAM RADIO! I would rightfully be drawn and quartered for such a practice.

    The intent of the law is very clear...it always was.


    Eric
     
  9. WR5AW

    WR5AW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Personally, I haven't written any AR articles. I'm not a writer. But, I don't think any AR EMCOMM practices actually compete with the commercial communications business. Maybe we have a different definition of competition. But that's just me - Joe average ham.

    I still think the story was fabricated. Too many details missing.
     
  10. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I used to operate from work but not for work, it was stricly amateur communications. I don't think there is any prohibition on conducting amateur to amateur communications from any location as long as that's all it is and your not being paid to do it.

    I also don't think the FCC gives a hoot about the ARRL and the cost of various courses or membership or whatever. The FCC is concerned with operation of amateur radio within the legal framework of the Part 97 CFR.

    As for emergency operations, the whole EMCOM thing has become a quagmire of hams who think they can operate however they please. There are lots of hams who are circumventing the rules either out of ignorance or a misplaced sense of entitlement in the name of EMCOM. I'm very glad to see that Laura Smith is taking an active interest in this matter and I hope that the FCC will continue to provide clarification on the subject.
     
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