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Unlocking Cell Phones is Now Illegal
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Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Jan 24, 2013, 04:20 PM
 
Another restriction http://mashable.com/2013/01/23/unloc...hones-illegal/

What's everyone's take on this? I understand the copyright issues, but is this really that big of a concern?
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 04:33 PM
 
Is there another source? Everything I've found just quotes the same Mashable post.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 05:09 PM
 
If this is true (which seems unlikely as I'd expect it to have gotten high profile coverage on the major tech news sites), I don't get it. I didn't realize that holding a copyright on something forbids anyone from making changes to it for personal use. Students don't get charged for marking up textbooks, we're allowed to chop up songs to turn into ringtones, and on and on.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 05:14 PM
 
I'm not exactly sure where copyright enters into it. Was it mentioned in the article?
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 05:46 PM
 
I don't buy it. There are zero references in the article and no mention of the law going into effect. I call BS on this one.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 05:49 PM
 
It seems to indicate this isn't a new law, but an old ruling by the LoC on the DMCA.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 05:59 PM
 
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I'm not exactly sure where copyright enters into it. Was it mentioned in the article?
I guess maybe I don't understand what the DMCA is, exactly. Does it govern more than copyrights?
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:23 PM
 
Bottom line? There's no justifiable reason to lock a phone to a carrier. None. Ever. And the practice itself should be illegal. I can totally understand a carrier wanting to recoup the money it spends subsidizing the price for a new phone. I get that. But that's what the early termination fee is for if you break your contract. This type of foolishness just goes to show you the power of the TELCO lobby in the US.

OAW
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:38 PM
 
If I'm reading things right it's a DMCA issue because the carriers own the software on the phone, and by unlocking it, you're busting their DRM.

If I'm also reading it right the LoC feels it's reached the point where if you want to buy a new phone and unlock it at some point, there are enough options for you to buy an unlocked phone.
     
OAW
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If I'm reading things right it's a DMCA issue because the carriers own the software on the phone, and by unlocking it, you're busting their DRM.

If I'm also reading it right the LoC feels it's reached the point where if you want to buy a new phone and unlock it at some point, there are enough options for you to buy an unlocked phone.
Perhaps. But it still doesn't change the fact that the carriers have no justifiable reason to use DRM software to lock the phone in the first place.

OAW
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:52 PM
 
They want to rack you on international use.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 06:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If I'm reading things right it's a DMCA issue because the carriers own the software on the phone, and by unlocking it, you're busting their DRM.

If I'm also reading it right the LoC feels it's reached the point where if you want to buy a new phone and unlock it at some point, there are enough options for you to buy an unlocked phone.
Huh, ok. I still don't get why that sort of thing would fall under a Copyright Act but then not everything makes sense I suppose.
     
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Jan 24, 2013, 07:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
Bottom line? There's no justifiable reason to lock a phone to a carrier. None. Ever. And the practice itself should be illegal. I can totally understand a carrier wanting to recoup the money it spends subsidizing the price for a new phone. I get that. But that's what the early termination fee is for if you break your contract. This type of foolishness just goes to show you the power of the TELCO lobby in the US.

OAW
I'm 100% with you on this. I should be able to do whatever I want to a product that I have purchased and paid for in full.
     
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Jan 25, 2013, 02:41 AM
 
Doing some more digging into the ruling, the claim for why unlocking is a problem is with prepaid phones. They get unlocked and then sold overseas in countries which don't have carrier subsidies.
     
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Jan 25, 2013, 02:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by gradient View Post
Huh, ok. I still don't get why that sort of thing would fall under a Copyright Act but then not everything makes sense I suppose.
IIUC, only the copyright holder has the right to alter the software.
     
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Jan 25, 2013, 05:44 AM
 
The point is this: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) bans circumvention of copyright protections even if you are circumventing them to do something legal. (The same garbage is in effect in the EU - commonly called the European Union Copyright Directive, EUCD - although the details of the process are different, as the directive is implemented slightly differently into law by the different member states). This rule is ripe for abuse - simply claim that part of your gadget is copyrighted, and the user can no longer do what they want with it. To mitigate this, the Librarian of Congress is authorized to grant three year exceptions to this rule, and there used to be such an exception for the case of jailbreaking a phone for the purpose of removing carrier lockins. This exception has now expired, and the Librarian has chosen not to extend it.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 25, 2013, 04:23 PM
 
We live in such strange times. You can buy a phone unsubsidized but you can't choose who to use it with. Half of everything requires agreeing to terms of service that no one but a lawyer is qualified enough to understand and allow you to give away rights you shouldn't. You can own a movie on DVD and are allowed to have it on your computer, but the act of getting it there is illegal. People are trying to copyright DNA. Public domain works are hidden behind a paywall.

Maybe the market was doing equally repulsive shit this widespread back in the good old days (You had to rent your telephone from Bell back in the day) but I'll be damned if I know about it.
     
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Jan 25, 2013, 09:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
The point is this: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) bans circumvention of copyright protections even if you are circumventing them to do something legal. (The same garbage is in effect in the EU - commonly called the European Union Copyright Directive, EUCD - although the details of the process are different, as the directive is implemented slightly differently into law by the different member states). This rule is ripe for abuse - simply claim that part of your gadget is copyrighted, and the user can no longer do what they want with it. To mitigate this, the Librarian of Congress is authorized to grant three year exceptions to this rule, and there used to be such an exception for the case of jailbreaking a phone for the purpose of removing carrier lockins. This exception has now expired, and the Librarian has chosen not to extend it.
That's some convoluted stuff, there. I should have gone to law school, apparently. Here's me thinking that you would only be in potential violation of a copyright if you copied it.

My understanding is based on what I've gleamed from Canadian law, of course - I guess it could be that US law really is a whole lot more different than I realized.
     
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Jan 26, 2013, 08:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If I'm reading things right it's a DMCA issue because the carriers own the software on the phone, and by unlocking it, you're busting their DRM.

If I'm also reading it right the LoC feels it's reached the point where if you want to buy a new phone and unlock it at some point, there are enough options for you to buy an unlocked phone.
That doesn't make sense. Neither ATT nor Verizon owns either Android or iOS.
     
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Jan 26, 2013, 09:08 AM
 
IIUC, the software which interfaces with the carrier is written by the carrier.
     
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Jan 26, 2013, 10:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by gradient View Post
That's some convoluted stuff, there. I should have gone to law school, apparently. Here's me thinking that you would only be in potential violation of a copyright if you copied it.

My understanding is based on what I've gleamed from Canadian law, of course - I guess it could be that US law really is a whole lot more different than I realized.
Well, going along with the whole software is "licensed" to you, that's what altering it is doing. Turning it into an unlicensed copy.

An off-the-cuff analogy is ripping the cover* off a book and putting on a cover which says you (or someone else) wrote it.


*And the copyright page too. You know what I mean. Work with me.
     
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Jan 27, 2013, 12:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Well, going along with the whole software is "licensed" to you, that's what altering it is doing. Turning it into an unlicensed copy.

An off-the-cuff analogy is ripping the cover* off a book and putting on a cover which says you (or someone else) wrote it.


*And the copyright page too. You know what I mean. Work with me.
Except that in a case like this you're not creating a new copy, you're just altering the original. It would be more akin to using a marker to write your name onto the cover of a book.

I'm not trying to say that my opinion reflects the realities of copyright law, mind you. I'm just irked by the idea that our belongings, in the digital age, are no longer truly our belongings.
     
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Jan 27, 2013, 01:34 AM
 
No argument from me there. I'm not exactly seeing it stop pirates either.

It has stopped me from watching legally purchased Mythbusters on a compliant TV because the HDCP decided to take a shit.
     
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Jan 27, 2013, 01:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by gradient View Post
Except that in a case like this you're not creating a new copy, you're just altering the original. It would be more akin to using a marker to write your name onto the cover of a book.

I'm not trying to say that my opinion reflects the realities of copyright law, mind you. I'm just irked by the idea that our belongings, in the digital age, are no longer truly our belongings.
I'm not disagreeing with the basic gist of what you're saying, but it's always somehow tied to "the digital age".

You NEVER owned the material. You had a physical copy that entitled you to a license.

People never understood this, but it didn't matter because the license was tied to the physical medium on your shelf.

Today, the physical medium is disappearing, and it confuses people – like it confuses you.

It's an important point, though.
     
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Jan 28, 2013, 06:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Well, going along with the whole software is "licensed" to you, that's what altering it is doing. Turning it into an unlicensed copy.
This is worth responding to, because it is what software developers would like you to think, but not actually what the law says. You buy the software - or hardware tied to the software - and you can use it or sell it like any other product. What you can't do is make copies, as that counts as distribution, but other than that, you own the gear. First Sale Doctrine applies.

On the subject of EULAs in general, the courts are divided. The 7th and 8th Circuit courts of the US subscribe to the idea that software is licensed rather than sold and that EULAs therefore are binding. All other circuits basically hold that they're not worth the digital ink they're written in. This is also the view of non-US jurisdictions. Mainly it is the tying component that is the problem - contracts of adhesion are generally not enforceable.

The only problem is the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA. If the software works as copy protection - for instance, by preventing installation of iOS on an ARM platform not from Apple - then that software cannot be altered to remove this limitation or any other copyright control. This is why phone unlocking needed a DMCA exception - and exception that has now expired.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 28, 2013, 01:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
On the subject of EULAs in general, the courts are divided. The 7th and 8th Circuit courts of the US subscribe to the idea that software is licensed rather than sold and that EULAs therefore are binding. All other circuits basically hold that they're not worth the digital ink they're written in. This is also the view of non-US jurisdictions.
As I understand it, that is not the point.

The point (here in Germany at least) is that you are presented the EULA as you install the software, which is AFTER you have paid for it.
The EULA were only binding if it were part of the sales contract, in which case it would have to be presented to the licensee BEFORE the purchase.

You cannot retroactively impose terms of use AFTER the contract has already been closed (by the sale).

EULAs are an entirely different subject from copyright enforcement, though.
     
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Jan 28, 2013, 06:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
As I understand it, that is not the point.

The point (here in Germany at least) is that you are presented the EULA as you install the software, which is AFTER you have paid for it.
The EULA were only binding if it were part of the sales contract, in which case it would have to be presented to the licensee BEFORE the purchase.

You cannot retroactively impose terms of use AFTER the contract has already been closed (by the sale).

EULAs are an entirely different subject from copyright enforcement, though.
Yup. That's what's called "Contracts of adhesion". It doesn't affect the DMCA issue though.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 28, 2013, 06:52 PM
 
Might as well send this to the PWL.

This is what happens when you marry big business and government.
     
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Jan 28, 2013, 07:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Yup. That's what's called "Contracts of adhesion".
Ah, sorry. I hadn't heard the term before.
     
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Jan 29, 2013, 02:00 PM
 
What is retarded is the punishment, up to 5 years in jail.... You can get less for rape.
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Jan 30, 2013, 01:42 AM
 
Go here to sign a petition to make unlocking legal: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...legal/1g9KhZG7
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 01:47 AM
 
just signed
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 03:31 AM
 
Devil's advocate position because I'm bored.

How often are the carriers jags about this anymore? Frex, doesn't VZW sell iPhones unlocked as is?
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 04:37 AM
 
...said the spider to the fly.

Carriers are just about the least trustworthy organizations on the planet.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Clinically Insane
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Jan 30, 2013, 04:48 AM
 
What's the upside for them though?

Personally, the only thing which keeps me with AT&T is inertia. I'd love for them to give me an excuse to bail. They're not going to though, because they know if they act too much like a dick they lose $150 a month from me for no reason.
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 05:41 AM
 
$150!?

Our most expensive plans are 110€, and they're all-inclusive!
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 05:52 AM
 
My bad. They're only squeezing my balls for $100.

$40 - 450 minutes with rollover
$30 - Grandfathered unlimited data
$20 - Unlimited messaging (SMS and MMS)
$10 - Taxes, etc.
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 02:03 PM
 
And I thought Canadian Carriers where the most expensive

$35 for Unlimited Calling
$30 for 6GB Data
$11 for Visual Voice Mail, Call Display, 2500 Minutes of Call Forwarding, Unlimited Canada/US/Int SMS, Unlimited Canada/US MMS, Who Called, Name Display
$9.15 for taxes

$85.15 total
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Jan 30, 2013, 10:13 PM
 
They do have us over a barrel, just like the cable companies.
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 10:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Athens View Post
And I thought Canadian Carriers where the most expensive

$35 for Unlimited Calling
$30 for 6GB Data
$11 for Visual Voice Mail, Call Display, 2500 Minutes of Call Forwarding, Unlimited Canada/US/Int SMS, Unlimited Canada/US MMS, Who Called, Name Display
$9.15 for taxes

$85.15 total
International texts cost us a quarter.
     
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Jan 30, 2013, 11:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
International texts cost us a quarter.
and rarely go through...
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 10:54 AM
 
$30 virgin mobile. can't say it's the best network, but it's getting better.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 11:59 AM
 
I want Ting

$6 - Per device
$3 - 100 minutes
$3 - 100 texts
$24 - 1GB data

I go over any of those numbers, they knock me into the next usage category instead of charging overages.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 01:08 PM
 
I'm always amazed how much people pay for cell phone service.. When I got my iPhone 3G, I negotiated a good deal for 63$, including 6GB data, 250 daytime minutes, unlimited minutes w/e and eve. after 6PM, 2500 SMS, visual voicemail, call display, etc and the taxes... and that was in 2008! It's still a good rate even to this day! The trick is to threaten to leave when your contract is over.
     
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Jan 31, 2013, 01:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by FireWire View Post
I'm always amazed how much people pay for cell phone service.. When I got my iPhone 3G, I negotiated a good deal for 63$, including 6GB data, 250 daytime minutes, unlimited minutes w/e and eve. after 6PM, 2500 SMS, visual voicemail, call display, etc and the taxes... and that was in 2008! It's still a good rate even to this day! The trick is to threaten to leave when your contract is over.
The US is in a league of its own.

I was thinking I'd finally take the plunge this year because I thought I saw $50 plans on Verizon... on further research I then noticed their plan costs you $50... and that's without even having a phone yet. It's absurd.
     
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Mar 1, 2013, 01:10 PM
 
FCC to investigate ban on unlocking cell phones | Ars Technica

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict jackshit comes of this.
     
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Mar 5, 2013, 10:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
$30 virgin mobile. can't say it's the best network, but it's getting better.
I've noticed that prepaid plans have gotten a lot better.

Is there any reason to even use a postpaid/contract plan anymore? Boost, Virgin, Cricket, and whoever else seem to have much better deals.
     
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Mar 5, 2013, 01:16 PM
 
The networks which have contracts have used that to build out a better network. That's the only reason.
     
   
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