Live Scanner feeds on the internet and the law, questions.

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Helion

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Hello, fellow radio scanning enthusiasts. I have been thinking of providing a live feed from my scanner on
Radioreference.com. I live in Canada, and am a Canadian citizen and am concerned with the law as it pertains to radio scanning.
As I understand it, the law has allways been (here in Canada) that you may listen to anything that is available
off the air. As long as you do not use any additional hardware or software to "unscramble" or "decrypt" any
communications.
Also, in public areas you must use head/ear phones to listen to your radio and you may not repeat vocally or otherwise what you hear on your radio.
With that in mind, how can one legally re-broadcast scanner feeds on the internet if the law forbids you to repeat to others what you hear.
I belong to several scanner radio specific Yahoo groups where users have warned others not to provide live feeds on the internet. In fact, the main reason why more and more emergency and law enforcement agencies are starting to scramble their communications is because of this re-broadcasting of their signals.
I am interested to know what others are thinking. I am not looking for a detailed explanation of the law here.
Thank you for your time.

A. in Toronto
 

mciupa

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First thing would be to check with your Internet Service Provider.
Are you in violation of their Terms of Service if you do this undertaking?
It would be a convenient way (excuse) for the ISP to shut you down by a request from a Public Safety agency if they became aware of it.
 

rdale

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Also, in public areas you must use head/ear phones to listen to your radio and you may not repeat vocally or otherwise what you hear on your radio.
You're sure that is a law?

I belong to several scanner radio specific Yahoo groups where users have warned others not to provide live feeds on the internet.
What legal backing did they have?

In fact, the main reason why more and more emergency and law enforcement agencies are starting to scramble their communications is because of this re-broadcasting of their signals.
Blatantly wrong, so either you were lied to or someone pulled a prank and you fell for it.
 

torontokris

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Lots of others are providing feeds online in Canada with no charges being laid, or sites shut down (as far as I know). If anybody has examples please post them.

Yes others warned not to post feeds for many different reasons.

Everybody has their own opinion on this issue.
 

Chrome69

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Here is my 2 cents:

If you put up a feed without the Public Safety approval here is what will likely happen if they even care. You will receive a letter to cease and desist on the feed. At this point you have 2 options. Either get a very good lawyer and put up a $80,000 retainer or just shut down the feed.. If you chose to shut it down it will 95% of the time end their. That's a big if they care.

Most of the guys in this section are from Ontario so we kind of know the law. As for you doing your own feed just follow RR's guidelines and you should be fine... You could send a letter in to get approval but i will tell you now TFS and TPS will not approve you or anyone else...

BTW welcome to RR...
 

JPM-ARG

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Radiocommunication Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. R-2

Prohibition

(1.1) Except as prescribed, no person shall make use of or divulge a radio-based telephone communication
(a) if the originator of the communication or the person intended by the originator of the communication to receive it was in Canada when the communication was made; and

(b) unless the originator, or the person intended by the originator to receive the communication consents to the use or divulgence.

Idem

(2) Except as prescribed, no person shall intercept and make use of, or intercept and divulge, any radiocommunication, except as permitted by the originator of the communication or the person intended by the originator of the communication to receive it.
Exceptions

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply in respect of radiocommunication that consists of broadcasting, a subscription programming signal or a network feed.
1989, c. 17, s. 6; 1991, c. 11, s. 83; 1993, c. 40, s. 24.

Penalties

9.1 Every person who contravenes subsection 9(1.1) or (2) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable

(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both; and

(b) in the case of a person other than an individual, to a fine not exceeding seventy-five thousand dollars.

1993, c. 40, s. 25.
 

JPM-ARG

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So, basically, don't without permission... because the fine is $25,000 and/or prison up to 1 year.
 

JPM-ARG

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You must have missed a section - what part in there refers to Internet rebroadcasts?
Nope, it's in the first sentence. You can't make use of or divulge a transmission without consent. Also, it's not a rebroadcast since in the text of the Act a communication intended to be private is NOT considered a broadcast.

Just because it's transmitted in the clear does not mean it's a broadcast.
 

rdale

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For the umpteenth time - your interpretation doesn't match that of actual legal experts. So basically we're back where we started. It's okay to have a scanner feed online.
 

JPM-ARG

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For the umpteenth time - your interpretation doesn't match that of actual legal experts. So basically we're back where we started. It's okay to have a scanner feed online.
I do know that, practically speaking, there is a lot of trouble nailing anyone for violating the interception and usage portions of the Act. More sophisticated thieves and most tow agencies use scanners for profit all the time and I can't recall any ever being prosecuted.

However, intercepting government communications and rebroadcasting them via an Internet feed makes it fairly easy to track you down if the affected agency doesn't like your behaviour.

I've cited the Act (CanLII - Radiocommunication Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. R-2), read it yourself. You don't need a lawyer to read it as it's extremely clear.

Feel free to cite your actual legal experts, or case law. The existence of other feeds only shows nobody's complained, not that the next feed to go up won't result in prosecution.
 

mciupa

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So, Helion , I guess you have nothing to worry about according to our American friend.

We have a fire feed for Toronto on-line, you want to be our guinea pig for a law enforcement feed?
 

ibagli

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I have read it, as well as true legal experts. Nobody has shown where Internet retransmissions of public broadcasts is illegal.
I think sending the audio to the RR servers might possibly count as intercepting and divulging. However, I don't know if it's considered "divulging" when you do it to a machine.
 
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After reading the Radiocommunication Act when we were getting ready to put our website online several years ago, we decided to get permission from the agencies that we broadcast. For the Edmonton Police Services, we got a letter from them thanking us for our interest but they requested that we do not provide their audio online due to privacy concerns as well as officer safety. However the fire department as well as ems were very supportive of our website and our feed. They work with us and even direct people our way during station tours and tours of the 911 center.

Can you put a feed online in Canada and hope for the best? Yes. A lot of feeds remain pretty low profile and you will probably be able to fly under the radar for a long time. However I think it is far better to work with the agency in question and avoid being a legal guinea pig for a hobby that, while rewarding, isn't worth the risk.
 

slicerwizard

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For the umpteenth time - your interpretation doesn't match that of actual legal experts. So basically we're back where we started. It's okay to have a scanner feed online.
It'll be cold comfort when charges are laid and legal fees start piling up. So to the OP - go for it!
 
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