Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Whatís mine should be mine: Ruling makes it illegal to unlock your phone
ECN Magazine ^ | January 25, 2013 | Jason Lomberg

Posted on 01/25/2013 3:00:40 PM PST by Still Thinking

Think you own your wireless handset, inside and out? Think you can do whatever you wish with your own property? Think again. Beginning Saturday, it will become illegal to unlock a phone without the express permission of the carrier who locked it.

While the relevant portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act legalizes jailbreaking for three years, it also makes it illegal to unlock new, locked wireless handsets (without the permission of the previous carrier). Exemptions include “legacy phones” ("used (or perhaps unused) phones previously purchased or otherwise acquired by a consumer").

So this ruling won’t kill the secondary market (i.e., Amazon, eBay, etc.), but be prepared to suffer the consequences if you walk into a Verizon store with an unlocked AT&T iPhone.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – this country’s service-oriented focus with respect to wireless carriers (vs. Europe’s hardware focus) makes little sense. I can see why they do it (fostering brand loyalty), but it’s foolhardy. The money is in the monthly service contract, not the meager or nonexistent profits afforded by the handsets (hence the old saw, “give away the hardware to sell the software”).

The wireless carriers realize this, but they stubbornly insist that handsets must be locked in order to strong-arm their customers into loyalty via contractual agreement. And this is but the latest result of all the handwringing – fearful that they won’t recoup the heavy hardware discounts, carriers lobby to ensure that consumers don’t own what they purchase.

The alternative business model dispenses with long-term contracts (one of consumers’ biggest pet peeves) in exchange for fully-priced, unlocked handsets. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a higher upfront cost in exchange for the freedom to switch carriers. Can everyone afford an unsubsidized $600 handset vs. a discounted $200 model tied to a contract? Probably not. But why not give consumers the choice?

I don’t sympathize with consumers who get buyer’s remorse after getting a heavily-subsidized iPhone and signing a 2-year contract. Nor do I have any problem with exorbitant early termination fees on smartphones, because the carrier needs to recoup the loss somehow.

But the business model underpinning this situation and the latest DMCA exemption is unsustainable. What’s mine is mine ... not the wireless carrier’s.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cellphone; cellular; cronycapitalism; dmca; rentseeking; rightoffirstsale; wireless
Think you can do whatever you wish with your own property? Think again. Beginning Saturday, it will become illegal to unlock a phone without the express permission of the carrier who locked it.

No, I still think that. It's just that now I've become aware that Congress and the courts have joined the carriers on the wrong side of this issue. If I pay for the thing, it's mine (Even with a "free" or subsidized phone, the money to pay for it is still coming from you. Any carrier who was actually GIVING phones away would go out of business.)

And yes, I realize the author is against this outrage; I'm just taking a shot at the surrender-monkey phrases he uses to frame his objection.

1 posted on 01/25/2013 3:00:46 PM PST by Still Thinking
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

Wow! There’s another freedom we don’t have but the people of Vietnam have.


2 posted on 01/25/2013 3:06:06 PM PST by tsowellfan (cafenetamerica.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

I will not comply


3 posted on 01/25/2013 3:10:29 PM PST by WorkerbeeCitizen (I'll surrender my guns alright - bullets first)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
but be prepared to suffer the consequences if you walk into a Verizon store with an unlocked AT&T iPhone.

It will not work anyway. AT&T uses different wireless technology than Verizon. That's why Apple sells two different types of iPhones:

One type - GSM - works on AT&T (and a few other carriers)

And the other type - CDMA - works on Sprint and Verizon (and most other carriers).

CDMA is more common in North America but GSM is more common in the rest of the world.

4 posted on 01/25/2013 3:10:58 PM PST by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
The alternative business model dispenses with long-term contracts (one of consumers’ biggest pet peeves) in exchange for fully-priced, unlocked handsets. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a higher upfront cost in exchange for the freedom to switch carriers. Can everyone afford an unsubsidized $600 handset vs. a discounted $200 model tied to a contract? Probably not. But why not give consumers the choice?

IF the alternate business model existed (I don't know if it does, since I still use a old Razr flip-phone), then the locked phone makes sense. In essence, there is an agreement that you will pay less for the phone in exchange for "exclusivity" period.

5 posted on 01/25/2013 3:12:08 PM PST by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

Time for a class action lawsuit against AT&T for forcing users to retain software like Blockbuster and Facebook, which I never use. They use data and battery power, even if they are never used.


6 posted on 01/25/2013 3:13:24 PM PST by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Planned Parenthood kills people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

When I went to the Philippines in October and went to the market areas, they had kiosks everywhere that unlocked your Iphone and Droid, including Samsung for $5 (equivalent) as I wanted to piggyback off the local carriers. When going back, they put back the phone together (same price). When I went to the Verizon store once I came back overseas for another non-related issue, they never knew it was unlocked.


7 posted on 01/25/2013 3:15:39 PM PST by max americana (Make the world a better place by punching a liberal in the face)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
Can everyone afford an unsubsidized $600 handset vs. a discounted $200 model tied to a contract? Probably not.

Actually, yes they can, at least if they're good at math and can resist immediate gratification. Obviously if the carrier is willing to sell you a phone for $200 which would otherwise have fetched $600, they think they'll get more than $400 benefit from the lockin. Not saying that you'll pay more than $400 for service, but that you'll pay more than $400 MORE for service than you would without a locked-in contract, the actual market value of the service itself. Otherwise the carrier is throwing their money away. So you should actually come out ahead with a market price handset and a no-contract plan.

It's just like those scammy outrageously priced insurance policies they want to sell you. I once calculated that to break even you'd have to get a phone replaced every three months, which was bad enough (who does that?) till I learned from my wife's carrier that you couldn't get a phone replaced more than ONCE EVERY FOUR MONTHS!!! So it's not even really insurance in an honest form of the word -- they're just allowing you to prepay for your replacement and they're guaranteed to turn a profit on the replacement policy of every single customer, not just actuarially in the aggregate like real insurance.

8 posted on 01/25/2013 3:18:11 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

Boy do the Intellectual Property laws need a HUGE revamp.


9 posted on 01/25/2013 3:19:05 PM PST by RIghtwardHo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
So this means that rooting an Android device is now illegal?

-PJ

10 posted on 01/25/2013 3:20:25 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
but be prepared to suffer the consequences if you walk into a Verizon store with an unlocked AT&T iPhone.

It will not work anyway. AT&T uses different wireless technology than Verizon. That's why Apple sells two different types of iPhones:

One type - GSM - works on AT&T (and a few other carriers like T-Mobile)

And the other type - CDMA - works on Sprint and Verizon (and most other carriers).

CDMA is more common in North America, Japan, and South Korea but GSM is more common in the rest of the world.

11 posted on 01/25/2013 3:24:22 PM PST by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kosciusko51
IF the alternate business model existed (I don't know if it does, since I still use a old Razr flip-phone), then the locked phone makes sense. In essence, there is an agreement that you will pay less for the phone in exchange for "exclusivity" period.

I have no problem with subsidized phones in exchange for a contract, and if you've agreed to a contract I have no problem with locking the phone till the expiration or at least settlement of that contract. I think it's stupid, at least in my case, and I've never done it, but it's a legitimate trade.

A locked phone which they've paid their tools in Congress to criminalize you for treating like it's your property is a different matter. They're saying they get to retain control over your use of that piece of hardware FOREVER, even after you paid for it, either in cash or by completing the period of a service contract. An infinite price for a finite benefit. F 'em. AND the horse they rode in on.

12 posted on 01/25/2013 3:24:22 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: aimhigh
Time for a class action lawsuit against AT&T for forcing users to retain software like Blockbuster and Facebook, which I never use. They use data and battery power, even if they are never used.

Why not just uninstall the app?

13 posted on 01/25/2013 3:26:45 PM PST by Cymbaline ("Allahu Akbar": Arabic for "Nothing To See Here" - Mark Steyn)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

I wish someone would produce an “Iphone” (or Android) with all the features EXCEPT the damned phone. I’m a lot more interested in the “computer” aspects than having the ability to have people intrude on me wherever I happen to be. I already have a phone. I’m quite happy with it. What I want is a powerful pocket computer just slightly larger than an Iphone, but significantly smaller than the Ipad “mini” (say about half that size). Something that will actually fit in a pocket.


14 posted on 01/25/2013 3:27:30 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking
An infinite price for a finite benefit.

Thanks for the info. I completely agree.

15 posted on 01/25/2013 3:28:36 PM PST by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog

Sound like a smartphone off Ebay or one of your old ones with no cell connection. I’m pretty sure a lot of people do that — keep their old smartphones and tablets and use them with no cell service as game machines for their kids, etc. You just use Wifi and USB to transfer data on and off. Plus if can get on a network, I believe it gives you the ability to make 911 calls even without cell service per se.


16 posted on 01/25/2013 3:32:04 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Cymbaline
Why not just uninstall the app?

It's locked by AT&T. They can't be deleted without "unlocking" the phone, which is not easy.

17 posted on 01/25/2013 3:32:48 PM PST by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Planned Parenthood kills people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: aimhigh
It's locked by AT&T. They can't be deleted without "unlocking" the phone, which is not easy.

And apparently illegal, if we're to believe Congress. "When unlocking cell phones is outlawed, only outlaws will unlock cell phones!" [eyeroll]

18 posted on 01/25/2013 3:45:09 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog

Try an iTouch.


19 posted on 01/25/2013 3:54:16 PM PST by Bradís Gramma (Psalm 83)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

I don’t understand why copyright issues such as this should be CRIMINAL matters. It seems like a contractual matter. If you buy a phone from a service provider and unlock it, then alright, you’ve voided the contract and now the service provider has no more obligations to service your phone.

Why does THE GOVERNMENT need to poke its nose into that transaction? What am I missing here?


20 posted on 01/25/2013 4:07:47 PM PST by seacapn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

Just like region codes for DVD’s, I remember when I worked at an airbase, on the MCS floor, we were allowed a DVD player but however, they specifically prohibited Region Free players. It had to be region locked. So much for playing import DVD’s while on night shift.


21 posted on 01/25/2013 4:13:43 PM PST by CORedneck
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

When I lived back in the USSA I owned a small mobile phone company, but cellular made it obsolete.
I became an agent for BellSouth Mobility, where a user had to pass a credit check before being allowed to have a number.
When I had my first cellular phone, it was a bag phone.
When I moved to Europe in 2000, I found mobile phones, all hand-held, to be far more advanced and easier to have then in America.

Now I am in the Philippines where mobile phones are cheap, plentiful, and serviced by three or more carriers.
Even poor young kids have a phone and they can buy “load”
(time) at most any roadside store for as little as $1.
They are easy to buy for any of numerous shops.
The phones use SIM chips that contain the phone’s number and all other information, and it easy to swap the chip around between other phones.
We have two active phones, often used to summon our pedicab driver, a poor guy, but he has a Nokia.


22 posted on 01/25/2013 4:49:24 PM PST by AlexW
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog

I have an iPod touch, which just about fits your description. The latest iteration is the 5th generation, with a 4” display.


23 posted on 01/25/2013 5:16:25 PM PST by cydcharisse (`)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: cydcharisse; Brad's Gramma
"I have an iPod touch, which just about fits your description. The latest iteration is the 5th generation, with a 4” display."

I had hopes that the Ipad mini would do the trick (our company "bonussed" everyone with an Ipad, either full size or mini). But even the mini is just TDB (too "darned" big). I had thought that perhaps the Ipod Touch was lacking in computer horsepower by comparison to the Iphone, but I'm beginning to get the impression that that is not correct.

Looks like I need to get into "in depth" comparison of specs.

Thanks for the feedback.

24 posted on 01/25/2013 6:26:11 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: aimhigh

I just checked my Android phone, and by gosh you’re right. I never tried to uninstall the Facebook app because I actually use it, but I was sure I’d be able to uninstall it. I went to Settings | Apps, and sure enough there’s no “uninstall” button there under Facebook. I can uninstall the updates, but I guess the app will still be there.

Not only that, but you can’t stop the app either. If you force stop it, it will restart itself again. So it’s just sitting there using up 27MB of RAM even if I’m not using it.


25 posted on 01/25/2013 7:19:32 PM PST by Cymbaline ("Allahu Akbar": Arabic for "Nothing To See Here" - Mark Steyn)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: seacapn
Why does THE GOVERNMENT need to poke its nose into that transaction? What am I missing here?

Hey, come on now -- the DMCA was enacted by the best legislators money could buy!

26 posted on 01/25/2013 8:22:28 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: CORedneck

Should have just got one that by it’s make and model would indicate region-locked, then get the corrected firmware to make it region free.


27 posted on 01/25/2013 8:24:04 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Cymbaline
I went to Settings | Apps, and sure enough there’s no “uninstall” button there under Facebook. I can uninstall the updates, but I guess the app will still be there. Not only that, but you can’t stop the app either. If you force stop it, it will restart itself again. So it’s just sitting there using up 27MB of RAM even if I’m not using it.

And these morons are the people "our" government thinks should have the sole right to control hardware WE'VE bought and paid for! FOREVER!!! [sigh]

28 posted on 01/25/2013 8:27:42 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Cymbaline; aimhigh

See, it’s crap like this, in combination with this ludicrous law, that makes me feel like I HAVE to root/jailbreak my phone even if I have no technical reason to, because it would be unprincipled not to!!


29 posted on 01/25/2013 8:30:42 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Wonder Warthog

You can get an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note II on Amazon for around $650. Check out the size and specs - you’ll like it.


30 posted on 01/25/2013 8:45:55 PM PST by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Still Thinking

Read Bastiat, FRiend. We’re France - crowded with crony capitalists manipulating the government for gain.

http://bastiat.org/en/


31 posted on 01/26/2013 5:16:28 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RIghtwardHo

They have been getting revamped for a half century now and it just gets worse. Disney built a business on expired IP, but now wants to own it for a century plus.

Better to simply undo all the changes and go back to IP of the 19th century.


32 posted on 01/26/2013 5:43:57 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: 1010RD
They have been getting revamped for a half century now and it just gets worse. Disney built a business on expired IP, but now wants to own it for a century plus. Better to simply undo all the changes and go back to IP of the 19th century.

That was about what I was going to say but I think you did I better job than I was going to!

33 posted on 01/26/2013 9:36:24 AM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson