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-   -   Unlocking Cell Phones is Now Illegal (http://forums.macnn.com/89/macnn-lounge/497509/unlocking-cell-phones-is-now-illegal/)

 
CentralParkMac Jan 24, 2013 03:20 PM
Unlocking Cell Phones is Now Illegal
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?
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 03:33 PM
Is there another source? Everything I've found just quotes the same Mashable post.
 
gradient Jan 24, 2013 04:09 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.
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 04:14 PM
I'm not exactly sure where copyright enters into it. Was it mentioned in the article?
 
shifuimam Jan 24, 2013 04:46 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.
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 04:49 PM
It seems to indicate this isn't a new law, but an old ruling by the LoC on the DMCA.
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 04:59 PM
 
gradient Jan 24, 2013 05:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213637)
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?
 
OAW Jan 24, 2013 05:23 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. :shake:

OAW
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 05:38 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 Jan 24, 2013 05:48 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213661)
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. :err:

OAW
 
subego Jan 24, 2013 05:52 PM
They want to rack you on international use.
 
gradient Jan 24, 2013 05:56 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213661)
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.
 
gradient Jan 24, 2013 06:05 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by OAW (Post 4213656)
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. :shake:

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.
 
subego Jan 25, 2013 01:41 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.
 
subego Jan 25, 2013 01:58 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by gradient (Post 4213664)
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.
 
P Jan 25, 2013 04:44 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 Final Dakar Jan 25, 2013 03:23 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.
 
gradient Jan 25, 2013 08:37 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4213703)
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.
 
ctt1wbw Jan 26, 2013 07:44 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213661)
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.
 
subego Jan 26, 2013 08:08 AM
IIUC, the software which interfaces with the carrier is written by the carrier.
 
subego Jan 26, 2013 09:30 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by gradient (Post 4213823)
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.
 
gradient Jan 26, 2013 11:25 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213903)
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.
 
subego Jan 27, 2013 12:34 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.
 
Spheric Harlot Jan 27, 2013 12:13 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by gradient (Post 4213908)
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.
 
P Jan 28, 2013 05:16 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4213903)
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.
 
Spheric Harlot Jan 28, 2013 12:46 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4214033)
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.
 
P Jan 28, 2013 05:15 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot (Post 4214081)
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.
 
Snow-i Jan 28, 2013 05:52 PM
Might as well send this to the PWL.

This is what happens when you marry big business and government.
 
Spheric Harlot Jan 28, 2013 06:00 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4214149)
Yup. That's what's called "Contracts of adhesion".
Ah, sorry. I hadn't heard the term before.
 
Athens Jan 29, 2013 01:00 PM
What is retarded is the punishment, up to 5 years in jail.... You can get less for rape.
 
jmiddel Jan 30, 2013 12:42 AM
Go here to sign a petition to make unlocking legal: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...legal/1g9KhZG7
 
blahblahbber Jan 30, 2013 12:47 AM
just signed
 
subego Jan 30, 2013 02:31 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?
 
P Jan 30, 2013 03:37 AM
...said the spider to the fly.

Carriers are just about the least trustworthy organizations on the planet.
 
subego Jan 30, 2013 03:48 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.
 
Spheric Harlot Jan 30, 2013 04:41 AM
$150!? :eek:

Our most expensive plans are 110€, and they're all-inclusive!
 
subego Jan 30, 2013 04:52 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.
 
Athens Jan 30, 2013 01:03 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
 
jmiddel Jan 30, 2013 09:13 PM
They do have us over a barrel, just like the cable companies.
 
subego Jan 30, 2013 09:44 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Athens (Post 4214540)
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.
 
Shaddim Jan 30, 2013 10:11 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 4214670)
International texts cost us a quarter.
and rarely go through... :rolleyes:
 
andi*pandi Jan 31, 2013 09:54 AM
$30 virgin mobile. can't say it's the best network, but it's getting better.
 
subego Jan 31, 2013 10:59 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.
 
FireWire Jan 31, 2013 12:08 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.
 
The Final Dakar Jan 31, 2013 12:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by FireWire (Post 4214848)
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.
 
The Final Dakar Mar 1, 2013 12:10 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.
 
shifuimam Mar 5, 2013 09:36 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by andi*pandi (Post 4214806)
$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.
 
subego Mar 5, 2013 12:16 PM
The networks which have contracts have used that to build out a better network. That's the only reason.
 
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