April 22, 2024
Is it Really 'Illegal' to Unlock Your iPhone?

Is it Really 'Illegal' to Unlock Your iPhone?

Posted January 29, 2013 at 2:52pm by iClarified
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published an article weighing in on the recent uproar over the decision by the Library of Congress to prohibit unlocking of mobile phones in the U.S.

As of January 26th, any newly purchased mobile phone can only be unlocked with carrier permission. Older phones can be unlocked freely.

Unlocking is in a legal grey area under the DMCA. The law was supposed to protect creative works, but it's often been misused by electronics makers to block competition and kill markets for used goods. The courts have pushed back, ruling that the DMCA doesn't protect digital locks that keep digital devices from talking to each other when creative work isn't involved. And no creative work is involved here: Wireless carriers aren't worried about "piracy" of the software on their phones, they're worried about people reselling subsidized phones at a profit. So if the matter ever reached a court, it might well decide that the DMCA does not forbid unlocking a phone.

The EFF doesn't expect mass lawsuit against individuals but warns there could be a risk to businesses that unlock and resell phones. If the courts rule in favor of the carrier, penalties can be up to $2,500 per unlocked phone in civil court and $500,000 or five years in prison in criminal court. Whether or not a phone is under contract has no bearing on the matter which basically means we aren't able to freely use the devices we own.

Phones are, of course, the tip of the iceberg of problems the DMCA has created. It kills aftermarkets, interferes with legitimate research, and squelches creativity in new media. The exemptions created by the Copyright Office can be helpful but, as this episode shows, they are too narrow and too brief. They also turn a small, specialized federal office into a sort of Technology Regulation Bureau. It's absurd that this small group of copyright lawyers and librarians is tasked with making decisions about the future of electronics markets.

We strongly urge readers to sign the petition started at WhiteHouse.gov to 'Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal'.

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Is it Really 'Illegal' to Unlock Your iPhone?
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Comments (13)
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harper - April 25, 2013 at 4:13pm
I think people will still unlock it, and there are many sites that's able to do it, I have tried two, attiphoneunlocking com was the good one, surprised me by unlocking my 5 in two hours, thought it was just ads, and iphoneunlockservice com was shit, 2weeks and it's not factory unlock, not worth the money.
flo - April 10, 2013 at 2:29pm
For the people who wants to unlock ATT phones, go google attiphoneunlocking, they unlock any model and firmware up to date. I did mine there, took me couple hours.
CITmAn - February 4, 2013 at 8:08pm
Just jailbreak it anyway. Who's ever gonna enforce this? I'd like to see it.
bob53366 - February 1, 2013 at 6:09am
Cell phone companies charge for terrible service. The maps show coverage but in many cases those maps do not reflect anything at all. Cell phone companies charge the caller and the receiver of the call airtime so they effectively charge twice for each phone call. Cell phone companies have small infrastructure cost per subscriber compared to landline costs yet a monthly bill can 5 times what a landline costs. Cell phone companies should be gov't regulated like they are in Europe. They should have to pay big fines for offering crappy service and charging for it.
1os - January 30, 2013 at 9:45am
Well, I had been with iOS for so long n if u own one you'll understand, I back it all the way to this point only. Knowing apple is greedy when it comes to restricted their device but they are one good ass device. But if I bought one device with my own hard earn cash, I'll choose to microwave it, cut my steak, or use as a coffee cup holder, how ever the hell I want, I'll use it to every penny of my hard earn cash..until now android will be the choice of free use when it comes down to it. And APPLE your not the only choice I get, now that Microsoft os is coming to market, n more android is beefing up...bye bye iOS
ballaflex - January 30, 2013 at 4:59am
hey u know Steve is dead "R.I.P" & he is the only one who have a word for this,so done whatever you want to his own conception. Peace !!!!!!!
Larry - January 29, 2013 at 10:29pm
Somebody needs to create in cydia, an app thAt shows that my iphone it's still locked to AT&T that way the cops will leave me alone... Jejeje the judge will be satisfied.
Mr.D - January 29, 2013 at 8:58pm
This law seems illegal and against common sense. Why would someone control what I do with MY phone? Whoever came up with this law should be placed in to a mental house.
Hash - January 29, 2013 at 6:38pm
This whole thing doesn't make any logical sense. The concept of "LOCKED" phones is so that the carrier locks you to their service. This is why they offer you a SUBSIDIZED price for that phone that you just bought ON CONTRACT. In other words, you aren't buying a $200 phone, but a $650 phone. So people complaining they can't UNLOCK their phone in this situation are seriously lacking intelligence. If people want OFF THEIR CONTRACT, they have to pay EARLY TERMINATION FEES (ETF)s, so I have no idea what excuse phone companies have that you can't UNLOCK it if you are REIMBURSING their initial subsidy. If the phone is NOT SUBSIDIZED in any way, it should NOT be locked in any way. There should be laws ENSURING they UNLOCK it in this case. Laws the other way around, preventing one from UNLOCKING it in this latter scenario defy all common sense. (Who am I kidding, most laws in the United States lack common sense).
Dejan - January 29, 2013 at 5:45pm
DarkKent - January 29, 2013 at 4:24pm
First off if u sold it to me and i brought it, guess what. its mine. i can do what the fuuck i want with it... U Aint rent me this phone. and it aint come from rent a center. if i decide to smash it on the floor u cant send me to jail just like if i unlocked it U CANT SEND ME TO JAIL. wonders whos gonna pay all those court fees.
wittybob - January 29, 2013 at 4:23pm
.... uh... what HE said.
Right - January 29, 2013 at 3:06pm
Kiss my ass. I'll unlock and sell my property as I see fit.
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