I think it is vital that all of us recognize the potential importance of this situation, so I am offering this to the eHam folks in the Misc. forum. It is a long post, but I feel it will directly influence HAM radio and our way of life.
Please forgive me if there is a more appropriate place for this. I am posting a message I emailed to many folks this morning, in the interest of education.
Hello HAM brothers and sisters...
I am going to expound for a time on a developing situation I discovered this morning; one which may affect much of the amateur radio landscape. In fact, it could alter many of our day to day experiences both related to and unrelated to amateur radio.
Before I do, let me give you a few "disclaimers". First, I do not have a direct financial dog in this fight (that is, I do not derive a significant source of income in this situation). Second, I am aware that there are many international amateur operators on this list and I suggest that they do not really need to see this, they can skip over this unless they desire to continue reading on. Third, this post, though deeply steeped in the law and politics of the United States, is not intended to be partisan and directly affects all amateur operators, regardless of political affiliation.
One more thought... I'd imagine that this could erupt some sort of flame war on this list. I will respectfully ask that any of you with strong feelings about this issue email me directly off list (firstname.lastname@example.org
) and I will try to keep everyone who sends me an email in the loop on direct responses. Of course, you folks are free to communicate as you see fit, including forwarding this brief to family, friends and other amateur operators. This could impact the vast majority of folks in our United States.
Some of you may have already seen what I am going to describe. I am going to try to keep it succinct. However, I wanted to share my own experience, which is something that I believe most HAM folks encounter in their life.
As time goes by I have noticed a fracturing of our society, and in fact, our world. It is difficult, if not impossible, to ignore the increasing rift between human beings in many places on this planet. One of the very few places that I have not seen a growth in this rift is the amateur radio community. Yes, there are little spats from time to time between operators. Sometimes we forget to be as thoughtful and patient as we should be. However, the old adage, "the ties that bind" truly does apply to most HAM's out there. There are a few attributes that the overwhelming majority of operators -- that I have met and interacted with -- have shared. Conscientious, considerate, prepared, involved, observant, and downright near genius (or exceeding in genius, as many consider themselves!) all come to mind. Another wonderful trait that many, many of our group share is kindness.
When I first got involved in amateur radio, I like many others, bought a second hand used rig. Think about that. How many of you do not have something in your collection that came as a direct result of another amateur operator giving you an excellent deal on something you needed/wanted to begin using that new shiny license? Sometimes we were even given gifts, items that came free of charge, because a thoughtful HAM knew we would need it or find it to be handy. One of the vertebrae of the activity known as amateur radio is thrifty operating principal and practice. Many of us take it to the extreme, but all operators that are capable of doing so should be attempting to repair their broken equipment, educate another operator or improve this activity in any way they can. It is not solely about the number or quality of our QSO's, it is about helping others reach that same plateau of quantity and quality. It is about learning and educating. It is about building goodwill and assisting others.
Your opportunity to purchase used equipment (or even be the recipient of free equipment) could be in great peril. Before you guffaw and assume that this is crazy talk that could not possibly be true, I want to make you aware of something hitting the U.S. Supreme Court late this month (October 2012). It regards something called the "first-sale doctrine" and if things continue as they have been going thus far, you will likely find it very difficult to buy or sell any second hand items without sweeping changes to our nations laws.
The main gist is this: the doctrine of first-sale copyright allows a manufacturer to have control only over the first sale of a physical item. If that item is purchased by an individual, that individual is then allowed and entitled to resell/provide that same item to anyone else at any cost (or no cost) without any responsibility to the manufacturer. This could, and I am serious here folks, be changed before we know it. It is possible that any item that we purchase can not be resold without passing a portion of that sale onto the manufacturer. And, it is possible that a manufacturer may choose to outlaw any future sales at all.
Let me give you a couple of real life examples detailing what this may mean to you. Imagine visiting with a fellow HAM at their home. They are showing you their new radio purchase. You two are enjoying the discussion and eventually he tells you that he no longer needs his old radio (since he already has 4 spares!
) and he is looking to part with it for the right price. You discover that the radio he is selling is something you would be interested in and that the price is right. You hand over the cash and take his old, currently unused radio. You are glad for the purchase because it just gave you something worthwhile and you paid a fair price for it. That will cease to occur.
Another example is more stark. No more HAMfest or swap & sell gatherings. The overwhelming majority of amateur operators appear and enjoy these sales and for many it is due to finding great deals on used equipment and/or parts while chatting with friends and colleagues. How many of us have not found an excellent deal on a roll of RG-58 or a dirty old microphone we really needed to have and didn't mind cleaning up and putting back into production? That experience would suddenly become illegal.
There are very, very few examples of purchasable items that do not contain some components that are derived from the "global economy". Think about it. Coffee makers, automobiles, handheld HT's, books, programming cables, pencils, etc. the list goes on and on. You may not be able to sell these items free of royalty or reporting responsibility to the original manufacturer in the very near future.This will make waves with any person inside or outside of the amateur radio operating community. However, I consider it to be a more insidious blow to our way of life than to some others.
Some of you might be thinking that I am imagining this situation or assuming that I am an alertist attempting to cause disruption. However, I will pass along an example of a news article which you can read for yourself and decide if this situation is as dire as it could be:http://www.marketwatch.com/Story/story/print?guid=AEC86DBA-0DA1-11E2-AC22-002128049AD6
I wanted to send along this QST to all fellow domestic U.S. operators and encourage you to educate your friends, families and fellow operators in kind. Keep an eye on this folks.
In my compiling of this email I have attempted to adhere to the amateur operators creed. How many of you know the amateur operators creed? I will paste it below:
The Radio Amateur is:
Considerate…never knowingly uses the air in such a way to lesson the pleasure of others.
Loyal…offers loyalty, encouragement and support to their fellow radio amateurs, their local radio club, and to the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio is represented.
Progressive…with knowledge abreast of science. It is well-built and efficient. Operating practice is above reproach.
Friendly…slow and patient sending when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are marks of the amateur spirit.
Balanced…radio is their hobby. They never allow it to interfere with any of the duties they owe to their home, job, church, school, or community.
Patriotic…their knowledge and their station are always ready for the service of his country and their community/
Who wrote the Amateur’s Creed?
The Amateur Creed was composed in 1928 by Paul M. Segal – then 9EEA in Denver, and General Counsel of the ARRL. The creed has been updated a few times over the intervening years, to update the text and put it into contemporary terms.
The Amateur’s Creed appears in a number of ARRL publications such as the Handbook, and is just as valid today as it has been for nearly 70 years.