It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1916 April

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Enforcement is an enduring theme in Amateur Radio. This month QST highlights the sorry case of W. T. Scofield, who thought he didn't need a license. He lost the court case, and had to pay up. Sure, it was only $5.00, which wasn't too much even in 1916, but he provides a case study to instruct the would-be Operator.

Get that license or suffer the consequences!

Note the 9 call districts of the time.


Look out for yourself if you are sending and are not the holder of a Government license for both yourself and your station. In last month's issue, we reported the bringing into Court of a lot of amateurs on the Pacific Coast for violation of the radio laws regarding sending without licenses. This month a case has been brought in the East. The First District is the battleground. The
conditions surrounding the case are very instructive, and we have taken pains to get the details for the benefit of the readers of QST. The Government is evidently going to insist upon the observance of the radio laws, and any amateur lacking in respect for our Federal Laws should get out his chart right away and look up the meaning of QRT.

Mr. W. T. Scofield of Stamford, Conn., 42 years of age, and an old telegrapher by profession, decided to get into the wireless game at his home. He bought a spark coil and rigged up an antennae and the rest of the stuff, and began sending. Somehow or other it got around that he had no license. He was using unauthorized call letters, which in itself is a dead giveaway. In the course of events, the Radio Inspector of the First District, warned him, and suggested that he apply for a license. He would be granted a Second Grade Amateur License, merely for the asking, and when it was convenient, he could be examined and if he knew the rudiments of wireless, he would be given a First Grade Amateur License. His station would be given a temporary license until the Inspector could call upon him. In other words, it was made perfectly easy for Mr. Scofield, the same as it has been for all of us.

Mr. Scofield somehow or other did not take the kindly advice of the District Radio Inspector, and in the course of events it is alleged that his attention was again directed to the matter. After a while, the Government seems to have lost its patience. They called upon Mr. Scofield and read an important document to him, which advised him that under severe penalty for failure he must present himself before the Federal Grand Jury. He did this, and was indicted, On March 7th his case came up in the Federal Court, at New Haven, and a very serious outlook presented itself to Mr. Scofield. The machinery of the Government had been set in motion, and it is no fool job to get out from under when these gears begin to clank and the machine, starts in your direction. If we had been in Mr. Scofield's boots, we would have worn these aforesaid boots out at the toes kicking ourselves. It was such an easy job to have applied for a Second Grade License, and saved all this trouble.

It was a jury case and several witnesses had been brought into court to testify. All manner of evidence was given which showed conclusively that Mr. Scofield had operated an unlicensed station and had no operator's license himself. The United States District Attorney had no mercy and bore down hard, stating that, the laws of the United States of America were made for a purpose and that these laws must be observed. Mr. Scofield had to hire a lawyer and this gentleman urged that Mr. Scofield could not have been doing much harm and that he ought not be punished. The case was very weak from Mr. Scofield's side because he had to admit that he was unlicensed and that he had operated an unlicensed station.. His only grain of comfort was that a dispute arose between the highbrow counsel over, the interpretation of the statute. It seems that Mr. Scofield's lawyer tried to make it appear that the law says regarding interference, that an example, of actual interference had to be proven before a case could be made out against any one. The United States through its counsel maintained that the law said an actual example did. not have to be proven, but that if the apparatus of the defendant COULD cause interference, then it was enough. The judge gave this his study, and announced that the United States counsel was right, and that it was not necessary to show an actual case of interference. A small spark coil with the proper accessories could produce interference and that, the operator of this coil was liable under the law if he worked without a license.

The jury brought in a verdict in favor of the Government. The Judge made the fine only $5.00, but saddled all the costs upon Mr. Scofield, and this must have amounted to enough money to buy the best kind of a transmitting and receiving set. Mr. Scofield made the mistake of his life in not applying for a license in the beginning. Every amateur ought to remember this case for the first time he sends out a message and signs calls letters which he has selected himself either from his initials or something else, he is guilty of not only operating an unlicensed station, but operating without an operator's license and also sending unauthorized call letters. Every letter in the alphabet has been assigned by the International Convention to some country or other, and no one can select his own call-letters, without committing what amounts to radio forgery.

In this connection, it might be said that the officers of the American Radio Relay League, propose to accept no one for membership whose call letters are unauthorized. Once in a while an application for membership is received in which unauthorized call letters are given. It is so easy to secure properly authorized call letters,. that there is no excuse for using unauthorized ones. All that has to be done is to write a letter to the District Radio Inspector whose addresses are. as follows, and ask for application blanks for Second Grade Amateur License, and fill these out and return them when they are received:

1st Dist., all New England States, Custom house, Boston, Mass.

2nd Dist., Eastern New York and Eastern New Jersey, Custom house, New York City

3rd Dist., Western New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia, Custom house, Baltimore, Md.

4th Dist., North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Porto Rico, Custom house, Savannah; Ga.

5th Dist., Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, Custom house, New Orleans; La.

6th Dist., California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Territory of Hawaii, Custom house, San Francisco, Cal.

7th Dist., Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska. Federal Bldg., Seattle, Wash.

8th Dist., Western New York, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Lower Michigan. Custom house, Cleveland, Ohio.

9th Dist., Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Minnesota, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Custom house, Chicago, Ill.

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