Late last October, Rayon Payne was tooling along the highway in a friend’s car when the po-po rolled up and pulled them over. Both men were searched, and the cops found a loaded gun on Payne’s person. Payne was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He wrote me shortly after it happened but I neglected to further publicize the incident – not like the man needs any more negative spin to his life’s story.
The only attempt made so far to challenge Florida’s law making radio piracy a state felony involves a petition from the American Radio Relay League asking the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling nullifying the state law on jurisdictional grounds. Although the FCC has been historically very aggressive in asserting its jurisdictional superiority when it comes to regulation of the airwaves, in the cases of Florida and New Jersey it’s looked the other way – the ARRL’s petition has languished in the FCC’s circular file for 19 months now.
But Rayon Payne, of all people, thinks Florida’s law can be successfully contested at the state level. He recently called the Florida Secretary of State’s office and asked for a license to broadcast. Payne’s premise is, if the state of Florida wants to assert some sort of policing authority over use the public airwaves, then it should include a licensing power as a part of that authority.
I had a nice long chat with Rayon Payne earlier this week. He’s been up to some interesting stuff.
Payne’s latest project is Myspace Radio. The plan involves establishing a database of music from which users will be able to access and assemble playlists for free. Said playlists can then be streamed from anywhere. Payne describes it as akin to Shoutcast, except you’re in complete control of the programming.
Users will be able to upload and request new audio files and share their playlists with others, but they will not be able to download files. The system will log everything that’s played, with the appropriate streaming royalty payments to follow. The entire service will be free; Payne hopes to generate revenue via advertising.
Jesse Walker recently wrote a nice treatise on the anti-pirate laws in Florida and New Jersey (albeit in dubious trappings, but you can read around that). Inspired, I decided to drop a line to the two Democrat FCC commissioners, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, both of whom are supposedly somewhat accessible via e-mail. They got this:
Since 2004 the state of Florida has asserted jurisdiction over the broadcast airwaves, something the FCC has historically worked very hard to keep within its exclusive domain. Last year, the state of New Jersey followed suit. Both states have essentially criminalized the act of unlicensed broadcasting, punishable as a felony involving jail sentences and multi-thousand dollar fines.
Last November, state officials got a conviction involving a used-car dealer that rented out space on a tower to two pirate stations. Accused initially of felonious unlicensed broadcasting, but he ultimately copped to a lesser charge.
But what about the cases of Marquis McDonald and Rasheem O’Riley, two men arrested last July who were held up then as being “test cases” for the new law? They were directly involved in the operation of stations and one even admitted to owning some of the radio gear police seized.