Thursday, January 24, 2013

It May Become Illegal To Unlock Your Cell Phone

Do you all remember that ruckus that happened over whether or not it was illegal to jailbreak your mobile device? Well, that whole fiasco is poised to come back in a bad way this weekend. As part of that decision, it may become illegal to unlock your smartphone starting this Saturday, January 26th, unless you get permission from your carrier.

This all goes back to the decision by the U.S. Copyright Office, which decided back in October that it was legal to jailbreak your mobile device under an exemption in the DMCA. Unfortunately, that exemption was only extended for 90 days when it came to unlocking a device that you purchase from a carrier, and that 90 days ends on Saturday. 

To be clear, this will make it illegal to unlock carrier-locked devices without permission from your carrier. This doesn't apply to devices that start out unlocked like many Verizon LTE devices, like the Verizon iPhone 5, and the Verizon HTC Windows Phone 8X, or T-Mobile devices like the Nexus 4. And, of course, unlocking and jailbreaking will still void your warranty. 

Apparently, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, jailbreaking and rooting are legal because the DMCA exemption means that users own the software on the device, and are allowed to jailbreak/root.  But following that logic, as of Saturday, we don't own the hardware that we purchase from carriers, so unlocking becomes illegal.


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