Legalising the iPod Outlaws

July 14, 2006

iPod nano is displayed at Apple Store on Chicago's Magnificent MileBritain is doing its part to bring a nefarious brand of criminals — iPod owners who use mini-FM transmitters like the iTrip – safely within the fold of legal society.It turns out that low-power FM transmitters, which many people use to listen to their iPods through a car stereo, run afoul of Britain’s Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949, which states that all radio stations, no matter how small, must be regulated so they won’t interfere with legitimate radio stations.Never mind that the iTrip has a range of less than 30 feet, and was openly sold in Britain with a warning sticker telling people not to (wink wink) use it in the country — violators actually faced penalties of up to 5,000 pounds ($9,000) or three months in prison. According to media regulator Ofcom, at least one seller has been prosecuted and a number of the devices have been confiscated.To remedy the situation, Ofcom is proposing to “legalise the use of low power FM transmitters which can be used to connect MP3 players and other personal audio devices wirelessly to radios and in-car entertainment systems.” Interested parties — white ear buds optional — have 10 weeks to comment on the proposal.

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