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Should it be a crime to unlock an iPhone?


Lawyers disagree about when, if ever, it’s a crime to unlock an iPhone. Most agree that unlocking your own iPhone doesn’t pose a problem – but things get murky if you post instructions online for unlocking an iPhone, or if you sell software for unlocking iPhones.


That’s the conclusion Grant Gross comes to in his InfoWorld story about the subject. Unlocked iPhones are the talk of the tech and telecom worlds after three groups claimed last week to have separated the Apple (AAPL) phone from its AT&T (T) network using different methods.


Photos: The BlackBerry's evolution



People who argue that unlocking the iPhone could be illegal point to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions, the same rules that make it illegal to crack the encryption on Hollywood DVDs and other media. But the DMCA provision has an exception for people who unlock their phones “for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.” [see here.]


So I have a problem with the argument that unlocking an iPhone should ever be illegal. If it’s legal under the DMCA for people to unlock their own phones, why should it be wrong for people to help others do the same thing?


The truth is, unlocking phones is different from unlocking Hollywood DVDs. In the case of DVDs, the studios can argue that when people break their locks, the result is that people steal their intellectual property. But in the case of a phone, it’s not so simple. If I buy a phone and I want to lawfully use it on the network of my choosing, who’s getting ripped off? I still bought the phone, and I’m still paying a carrier for service. I’m just doing it on my terms.




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If you buy the phone then I think you should be able to do whatever you want to it. There are plans to build bombs on the internet and they don't seem to be breaking the law so telling me how to hack my iphone shouldn't be a problem. :D

Edited by Skippy
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Legal threats halt iPhone crack

A British firm's plan to sell software that could open the iPhone to non-US networks has been put on hold following legal threats.

Last week, Belfast-based UniquePhones joined several others in claiming it had cracked the code which locked iPhone into AT&T's network.


But a middle-of-the-night phone call from AT&T's lawyers have forced the firm to rethink its plans.


It will now take legal advice to assess the ramifications, the firm said.


According to UniquePhones, it received a 3am call from a lawyer claiming to represent AT&T and warning it that selling unlocking software could constitute copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination.


"A substantial delay caused by any legal action would render the unlocking software a less valuable commodity as well as creating unforeseen security issues for the company," UniquePhones said in a statement.


Apple response


Interest in the iPhone, Apple's first foray into the mobile world, has been intense since it was launched in the US in June.


On Friday it was reported that a 17-year-old US hacker had unlocked the iPhone and used it on rival T-Mobile's network.


George Hotz said that the method he used took two hours and involved both tinkering with the software and some soldering.


A website called iPhonesSimFree also claimed to have cracked the code with a software solution that it would begin selling imminently.


Analysts believe Apple may still have time to modify the iPhone to tighten its locks before the phone is launched in Europe.


Any reported cracks would have ramifications for Apple's European partners which, it is rumoured, the firm may announce at IFA 2007, a consumer electronics show being held in Berlin next week.


Tech blog Engadget thinks UniquePhone's should make their unlocking solution available to the public.


"Here's to hoping that, should UniquePhones not find themselves able to actually sell their software, at very least the unlock method they've discovered gets opened up to the public. After all, there's no reason why everyone shouldn't be able benefit from this knowledge just because one company isn't able to sell it," it said in a blog entry.




Story from BBC NEWS:






Store Files on Your IPhone

IPhoneDrive is a graphical file transfer tool for the iPhone. Just hook the phone up to your Mac and you can drag and drop files to and from the iPhone, using it as an external hard drive the way God intended. Why on earth Apple didn't include this feature from the start is a mystery, since every other iPod already has a similar capability. IPhoneDrive costs $10.


Edited by Randall
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There is absolutely no reason in my mind that an owner should not be able to decide which service provider they will use with they're purchased phone.

I want an iPhone, I am a TMobile customer. I have had TMobile since I was in Germany with Deutsche Telekom, so I have some brand loyalty there. My hope that is by the time I come back from Iraq this will be sorted out and I can get myself an iPhone. There was some speculation that TMobile might be the European provider for iPhone, if they are won't this be a fairly simple switch over to the TMobile network in the states?


if there is a simple enough crack/hack to this when I get back, i will do it.

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