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Comment of the Week - Behringer's $1 million dollar fine

The recent $1 million dollar fine proposed by the FCC as a punishment for Behringer attracted some strong arguments. Should Behringer be made to pay up?


Behringer is in hot water again. It has flouted FCC regulations by selling fifty models in the US without proper certification. And the FCC wants to punish Behringer to the tune of $1 million dollars.

That is $7000 per model sold, plus a 'bonus' penalty of $650,000 just because Behringer has pissed the FCC off.

At the time of writing my first article on this topic, I was of the mind that although Behringer flouted regulations, it may have been acting under incorrect advice. It had after all put sixteen models through certification and had communicated with the FCC about its intentions for the rest.

Behringer clearly made an error and deserved a warning, and perhaps a financial penalty. But $1 million dollars? That's a lot of money for a pro audio company. Any pro audio manufacturer will tell you how difficult it is to make money in this market.

However, comments received on this article have swayed my opinion - here's one from Dave Bradley, of Lawrence, MA, USA...

"Having been on the receiving end of interference caused by equipment that was sold without proper certification by the FCC, I'd have to say that I'm not with Behringer here. They have violated the law and apparently done so in the hopes that it would be easier (and perhaps better) to seek forgiveness later than to get permission beforehand.

We have laws for a reason, as does any other sovereign nation on Earth. To do business in this country, you must follow our laws, just as to do business in any other country you must follow their laws.

Any lawyer who is licensed to practice in the U.S. would not have advised them to try to get around the law. Any lawyer not licensed to practice in the U.S. is unqualified to give them advice on U.S. laws.

Overstrict? Perhaps. But if so, it's for a reason. If they don't like it they can lobby to change the law, but they shouldn't just decide to break the law. That's just plain ignorant and disrespectful.

Yes indeed, it is perfectly possible that Behringer just thought it could get away with it. And when other manufacturers are playing fair and going to the trouble and expense of getting their equipment certified, Behringer just shovels stuff onto the market.

Apparently a total of just over 100,000 uncertified units were sold, making the fine just $10 per unit. And if Behringer isn't making more than $10 profit per unit then the Chinese flag isn't mostly red.

But just think next time you buy a Behringer product in the USA - $10 of the price you pay is going to the FCC.

Don't worry though - that $10 that would otherwise have come out of your taxes!

By David Mellor Monday April 10, 2006
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