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FCC FU:

Check out the lyrics of FCC FU: The Anthem on the front page, the audio Main Choral Version, and the audio Choir & Heavy Metal Version. Thanks to Hanah Metchis Volokh for the pointer.

Daniel Chapman (mail):
Pfft... eminem it ain't.
9.14.2006 8:11pm
SMatthewStolte (mail):
It isn't exactly a moving argument for free speech, when its advocates reveal that what they intend to say is particularly vulgar. Principles set aside (and they must be because I do, after all, believe in free speech), should I be at all saddened if I cannot hear the sounds of an angry singer like the one found in Steve Earle?
9.14.2006 11:42pm
Fub:
SMatthewStolte wrote:
...should I be at all saddened if I cannot hear the sounds of an angry singer like the one found in Steve Earle?
You might be overjoyed to learn that your radio has a knob or button that allows you to change the station if you hear something you don't like.
9.15.2006 5:24am
SMatthewStolte (mail):
It is a great blessing.



Except when Jerry's in the car. Yes, Jerry, you know what I'm talking about, and, no, I do not accept your apology.
9.15.2006 9:21am
Joel:
Well, I don't know about any of the music... But I sure hope the FCC gets its thumbs out and approves FCC 05-143.
9.15.2006 2:10pm
Fub:
Joel wrote:
Well, I don't know about any of the music... But I sure hope the FCC gets its thumbs out and approves FCC 05-143.
-.- .. -.. ... | - .... . ... .
| -.. .- -.-- ... !!!
9.15.2006 3:07pm
joe (mail):
I think this sums up the FCC nicely

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U058nz0Jepg
9.15.2006 3:33pm
Fub:
I'm glad this post and comments haven't aged off. I looked up some things that raised some questions for me about these FCC "indecency" actions.

I don't find the FCCFU songs even slightly offensive. But I don't find any of the material that the FCC has ever acted upon to be offensive, at least in the sense that the FCC considers it. I think all of it is at worst offensively boring. So I can't imagine that anyone but certifiable loons and two-bit culture warriors would want to remove FCCFU from discourse on the public airwaves.

Yet I think the FCCFU website's statement of purpose grossly underestimates the risk to any radio station that airs their material. They state
"While it was tempting to taunt the FCC and censorship in that manner, we believe profanity acts as a turnoff to the general public, and overwhelms the more important message. (Besides, it was simply more fun to insult the FCC using words and phrases they can’t censor!)"
I think their analysis is mistaken. There is no exception in the "indecency" laws or regulations for bleeps, or double entendre, or clever allusions, or substitutions of innocuous sounds or words. The FCC can rationalize a finding of "indecency" as indirectly as The Music Man: "Ya got trouble, ...with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool". The burden of proof is on the licensee to prove that the material was not "indecent".

As communications attorney John Crigler, of Garvey, Schubert, Barer, writing in "Test Your Indecency Knowledge", Radio World, July 5, 2006, stated:
18. A station won't be fined if it bleeps or pixilates indecent material.

False. Even an edited program can be found indecent if a sexual meaning can be inferred. The issue may devolve into a question of proof. If a station cannot provide satisfactory evidence of the broadcast of edited versions of music, the FCC could find that unedited indecent material was broadcast.
The second F in FCCFU is no different from a "bleep" if an "indecent" word with a sexual meaning can be inferred from it. In fact, that cleverness is what makes the song humorous. But I think the FCC would find it too clever by half, and that courts would uphold it.

There is also no shortage of complaint mills dedicated to taking down broadcasters for "indecent" material. Neither the complaint mills nor the FCC rules require that the complaining party even heard or viewed the particular broadcast. One measure of the numbers of complainers available to them are the 30,000,000 letters and emails sent to the FCC over 30 years complaining about rulemaking petition RM-2439 as if it were on the FCC's current agenda. The FCC denied RM-2439 in 1975.

So, I wonder if any Volokh Conspirators care to speculate about the legal risks of broadcasting the FCCFU song. Here are the broad hypothetical questions.

1. If many radio stations aired the song, and someone complained to the FCC about "indecency" in the broadcasts, would the FCC act on the complaint, and send Notices of Apparent Liability?

Obviously the FCC can act on even one complaint, but I'm asking whether you think they would act on any complaints.

2. Assume the FCC acted. Assume the stations involved have annual incomes less than the cost to contest a NAL, ie: that they are noncommercial, shoestring operations. How many lawyers are there who would take on the cases pro bono from start to finish?

3. Assume that the FCC acted on many stations for the same offense and found them all liable, and all appeals, including SCOTUS were lost. Assume the principals at those stations had all agreed among themselves to air the FCCFU song as a protest. Could the stations' principals then be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy to violate the indecency statutes and regulations?

4. If the answer to (3) is "yes", then how many lawyers are there who would take on the conspiracy cases pro bono from start to finish?

5. If the answer to either (1) or (3) is not a definitive "no", then why should any radio station ever risk airing the FCCFU song?
9.16.2006 6:28pm
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9.18.2006 4:59am