It may become illegal to unlock your phone starting Saturday

It may become illegal to unlock your phone starting Saturday
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. Theoretically, the theory is that if you're buying from a carrier

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74 Comments

74. mobilelegends

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 13, 2018

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71. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

This has to end up in a court somewhere, since the only reason carriers have locked phones is to force their carrier flavored crap on you. I already pay you for your service I do not want your applications if I don't wish to, it's my choice whether to use your applications or not. I don't with to have software on my phone that I do not wish to use and which doesn't in anyway hamper my phone from working on your network should I remove them. This locking phones business is just a way to get money, locking tethering so they can charge you an arm and a leg for it? Funny thing is tethering isn't a service it's actually a built in function of the phone and OS neither of which belongs to the service provider, isn't that against the rules to lock out functions that are wholly legal to have? Someone up there used his home wifi as an analogy, to a fail. How on earth is your home network which you do not let those outside your home use is anything like Verizon/AT&T networks which people are paying to use? People doing what they should not be doing?!? Such as what? Removing useless apps that the carriers install on the phones, none of which serve any purpose to the user. As I again stated Tethering isn't an app, in fact it is a function of the OS, every JB Android phone has the ability to use it's WiFi chip to allow other devices to connect to it as a WiFi hub. Blocking that with software locks should be considered illegal since they are changing the OS, why should you pay twice to use the same bloody data pipeline? GSM Carriers used locks to prevent their phones from being used on other networks, which was understandable, but with ETF as they are now people don't bother or wait until contracts are up then jump ship. Others forego that entirely and just buy an unlocked phone and take it to carriers who can support the phone. Phones locks are nothing more than a money grab, VZW being one of the worst since their phones only work on their CDMA tech, their lock is just to keep the end user from kicking all their promotional garbage off the phone. I know it's a VZW phone from the damn logo, I don't need to be reminded of that when I go through my apps. This law is backasswards, how is the software yours when you purchase the phone but the hardware isn't? Wouldn't that invalidate the locking system since it's all software induced?

70. TMach unregistered

EU Law makes it illegal across European Union countries to lock a phone. The only handset that comes network locked seems to be the iPhone (don't ask me how - something to do with pre-set prices and price plans) and even then your network provider will usually unlock it for free, if you threaten them in the right way!

68. legend1

Posts: 104; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

ok this is getting kinda stupid

65. 9thWonderful

Posts: 232; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

It's not a big deal to me bc it doesn't interrupt how I use my phone. I look at it like this, if I had a neighbor who found out how to bypass my wifi security & use my wifi access I'd be pretty damn ticked off. It's the same concept, people doing what they shouldn't be doing with something and are getting upset bc the powers that be are clamping down. The truth is you don't know how using that unlocked phone is affecting the bottom line.

59. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1291; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

I feel sorry for US people... Definitely 2 years contract of using the operator's service is already enough. I mean one gets subsidized phone from AT&T by signing 2 years contract, even though he unlocks it, I don't think it will be wrong if he continues the mobile service for 2 years in that unlocked phone or some-other phone. So where comes the illegal thingy?? Even though he unlocked the phone, if he continues in network for the contracted 2 years, then what is wrong in his side??? It is definitely operators method to take away freedom from people and the worst part is Govt is supporting this.. People have to start protest or at the least start online petitions to stop this. But I too think, many people will never understand its importance..

58. Jonathan41

Posts: 532; Member since: Mar 22, 2012

Keep calm and only by Unlocked.

54. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Bunch of bull-you-know-what...guess what? I am still getting my phone unlocked...network and software...so, MR. U.S. Gov't official what are you doing to do about it? yep...NOTHING!

64. 9thWonderful

Posts: 232; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

Well what if they show up at your door bc you illegally unlocked your phone, then what are you going to do if that happens? Go to jail bc you couldn't resist unlocking your phone? lol, wow.

45. CorianU

Posts: 27; Member since: Jan 22, 2013

We'll just see how long that works out before consumers decide enough is enough

44. jamaladam

Posts: 13; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

This ain't gonna stop me from rooting my phone. Screw the carriers and their bulls**t.

46. ncv144

Posts: 126; Member since: May 04, 2012

We should organize a root-a-thon JUST to annoy them!

40. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

GET 'EM, US COURTS! These people think that, just because they own a phone, they get to do things with it. It is a privilege, not a right, to be able to use your belongings as you wish. Be happy you can even make calls. Entitled fools. Always remember: Just because you paid for it doesn't make it yours. /s

61. 9thWonderful

Posts: 232; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

Amen, finally someone with common sense.

39. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Ok, that's fine. Then if I don't "own" the hardware, then stop making me pay for it. They should force the carrier, with that kind of logic, to give the phones free with our service......But now I am making too much sense. Stop allowing the carriers to lock phones then we won't have a problem.

63. 9thWonderful

Posts: 232; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

They do offer phones for free with the service, but unfortunately not the ones that anyone wants right? You can't have your cake & eat it too bro. You're paying $199 for a $650 phone. You dont make any sense at all. Which would you rather do, pay $500-600 each time you want a new phone to say you "own" it or pay $99-199 to pipe down enjoy some of the latest & greatest phones out there? People throw around their measly dollars & feel that they are entitled to tell a business what should happen. Just don't get that kind of logic.

38. Atlas

Posts: 158; Member since: Apr 15, 2012

Is is it just in the US?

36. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I could give a damn whether or not they think we should unlock the device or not. But the device is MINE and I would love anyone to tell me differently. Last time I checked there are no guys in suits coming to my door taking my phone if i do not pay my bill. I pay for the service. Man, what is up with this country.

35. chris_t610

Posts: 14; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Now I think this is plain stupidity. Technically, any devices that are still under contract means these are still under the carrier's discretion -- but again, these are the phones themselves (meaning the carrier reserves the right to pull back the device should the customer chooses not to continue with the service within the contract period). As for the software, the end user has the right to do whatsoever he/she wishes to do with the said device and that includes rooting/jailbreaking. Otherwise, they might as well consider downloading apps, documents, and the like to be illegal as well since these are manipulated by the user. Bottom line; as long as the customer is paying for his services, I think the customer reserves the right to do whatever pleases him with the device.

34. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

The value of a NEXUS just went up 100 fold..

37. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

It will be grey zone, not illegal.

28. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Good India doesn't have this carrier locked crap.

24. OptimusOne

Posts: 694; Member since: May 22, 2012

nvm. comment was stupid

21. nyamo

Posts: 274; Member since: Mar 19, 2011

my carrier susidies are over anyway, i'm tired of all the bloat they put on, if it weren't for my wife's phone failing earlier than anticipated we would already be on the prepaid train

20. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

Just unlocked my phone before it becomes illegal again... Hopefully they put a permanent law that will force carriers to let you do what you want with your phone. You would think the carriers would want you to mess with your phone so when you break it they get to charge you $600 for a new one.

19. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Next thing you know, we wont be able to paint our cars or add cases to our phones. We already get tickets for leaving the trash can out, or growing carrots in your front yard.

15. richardyarrell2011

Posts: 510; Member since: Mar 16, 2011

Oh well

12. regkilla

Posts: 87; Member since: Sep 13, 2012

glad my Verizon iPhone 5 already comes unlocked ;)

14. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

What's the purpose of unlocking a carrier specific phone? You can't switch carriers...

16. regkilla

Posts: 87; Member since: Sep 13, 2012

I'm not on contract with it so I could use it on T-Mobile as well.

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