I remember from my amateur radio course, and old versions of our local national regulation documents, that anyone is allowed to receive amateur radio transmissions. It's been claimed that international radio regulations (ITU RR probably) defines amateur radio transmissions to be public. It was also said that you can record and archive amateur radio transmissions. But where exactly is this defined, and what is the wording? Does it say somewhere that you are allowed to republish the recordings?

Recently it has become a popular sport to archive amateur radio communications, for long periods of time, and republish them on the Internet. I find it a logical extension of the "amateur radio transmissions are public" rule, and often useful. I do it myself for APRS data, even. Data storage is cheap and becoming cheaper, so it's probably a matter of time until someone archives the whole HF amateur spectrum for a year and makes it available on a nice web SDR service.

I've been browsing the ITU RR amateur service documents but can't find the section. I'm particularly interested in the international rules, or common variations of it in local regulations – not just FCC's view of it.

  • $\begingroup$ The reproduction of something said by someone else is not of concern to the FCC, as far as I can see. That's quite literally what copyright is about. However, it'd be interesting to know whether "uttering anything on an amateur radio band as a licensed person" is equal to dedicating that utterance to the public domain. For commercial broadcast radio stations, that is not the case. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2017 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


I don't think anything specifically says that amateur radio transmissions are public and can be archived, and certainly nothing prohibits it, but if you read between the lines in the rules, this is implicit.

  • You are not allowed to make a profit from amateur radio transmissions, so copyright enforcement would not make sense.
  • You are not allowed to obscure the meaning of amateur radio transmissions, so preventing someone else from listening with encryption or scrambling is not legal and there is no expectation of privacy.
  • If you witness a usage violation of amateur radio, a suggested method of complaining about it is to turn in a recording to the FCC, so this implicitly indicates that recording and archiving would be allowed if not encouraged.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The FCC, OFCOM, NBTC ... depends where you are $\endgroup$
    – Scott Earle
    Nov 27, 2017 at 8:05
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Profit and copyright enforcement are two different things, as can be seen in the whole open source movement (no profit, but copyright enforced). So, one could potentially use copyright to take down an archive of your own transmitted words put up by somebody else. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 27, 2017 at 14:53

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