More depressing news from our so-called “justice” system: the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the “no-pirates” clause in the FCC’s LPFM rules. The clause was challenged by Greg Ruggiero, a member of the former Steal This Radio collective in New York. A three-judge panel of the the same court initially declared the blanket exclusion unconstitutional about a year ago. The FCC petitioned for a re-hearing of the case in front of the full bench, which was granted – leading to the reversal of the previous decision yesterday.
After rejecting both primary arguments articulated by Ruggiero and the FCC against and for the anti-pirate clause, the court struck out on its own path to denying the challenge to the ban. Ruggiero, in part, argued that many other individuals and entities licensed by the FCC have been found guilty of worse crimes than radio piracy. Therefore, Congress’ late-2000 passage of the “Radio Broadcasting Protection Act,” which overrode the FCC’s original rule and banned pirates completely and permanently from the new service (the FCC originally granted unlicensed broadcasters a limited window of amnesty under which to apply for an LPFM license) was unconstitutional.