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Cell Phone Owners Allowed To Break Software Locks

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the free-at-last dept.

305

An anonymous reader writes "The library of congress approved many copyright exemptions today. Among the exemptions were new rules about cell phones, DVDs, and electronic books." From the article: "Cell phone owners will be allowed to break software locks on their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new copyright rules announced Wednesday. Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations and let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books. All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office exempted groups of users. The new rules will take effect Monday and expire in three years. In granting the exemption for cell phone users, the Copyright Office determined that consumers aren't able to enjoy full legal use of their handsets because of software locks that wireless providers have been placing to control access to phones' underlying programs."

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fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962696)

Frisp post, fuck slashdot, zonk and taco

Nigger weah muh profule? Sheeeet! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962810)

Nigga pleaz you got 99 cent? Wup wi d'slashdot? Wear be my prfule... Lok her crackerr, eyes be a ngirger so i cunt type n sheeeeeeeeeeeeetttt but warz muh profilz biznixnatch?

Hey kitty (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962698)

I'm in ur cellphonez, breaking ur software lockz

How about not treating me like a criminal in the (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962700)

first place and reversing the DMCA? Especially with crap that I buy and should be used in a manner I see fit short of mass distributing it to other anonymous people.

These exemptions are nice and all, and I know the Library of Congress does not have the authority to do more (only Congress itself or the SoC can repeal the DMCA) - but I feel I'm got punched in the face and the LoC is passing by and helpfully giving me a tooth back. What about all the other missing teeth?

How kind of them to smile upon us wretches. (5, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962726)

but I feel I'm got punched in the face and the LoC is passing by and helpfully giving me a tooth back. What about all the other missing teeth?

That pretty much sums it up. I was thinking of it more like you just got the shit kicked out of you by someone, and the LoC was too weak to do anything to help you, but now that you're lying facedown in a puddle of your own blood he'll helpfully get you an ice pack.

These concessions are great, but they're like the Warden giving you an extra ration of food, when you're not supposed to be in jail in the first place. We shouldn't have to have these concessions granted -- all the things mentioned in the summary are common sense, and ought not be protected by copyright in the first place.

Plus, these concessions are just three years. Since they're not permanent, if they're not renewed constantly, they disappear. That makes them hard to count on in the future. When the media lobby got its copyright extension last time, I can't help but notice that there wasn't an expiration or "lets revisit this in 5 years" date; it was permanent.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (-1, Troll)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962822)

Especially with crap that I buy and should be used in a manner I see fit short of mass distributing it to other anonymous people.

Why exactly should this arbitrary limit be the limit? If the only limit is that you can not mass distribute it, then you limit the ability of companies to offer products with more flexible and personalized limits. While all analogies are fraught with complications, here's one that I think is apt: you are basically saying that ALL restaurants MUST be "all-you-can-eat" (no a-la-carte) with the limitation that customers are not allowed to stuff food into their purses and pockets and take it home. Why exactly can't, for example, you and I come to some agreement that, for example, you write some song and I am allowed to listen to it exactly once since this we came to a mutually agreed upon price for which I agreed to listen to it only once?

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (4, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962886)

If the only limit is that you can not mass distribute it, then you limit the ability of companies to offer products with more flexible and personalized limits.

Your business model is not a government entitlement program. The rest of us are not bound to rewrite our laws to support it.

Why exactly can't, for example, you and I come to some agreement that, for example, you write some song and I am allowed to listen to it exactly once since this we came to a mutually agreed upon price for which I agreed to listen to it only once?

You should certainly be able to do that under private contract law, but because your business model represents the grossest-imaginable violation of the Constitution's language authorizing copyrights, you should not be able to leverage Federal copyright law to enforce your terms.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (3, Insightful)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962926)

Your business model is not a government entitlement program. The rest of us are not bound to rewrite our laws to support it.

Wow. What a load of crap. Here is the full extent of what the Constitution, which you cite, says about copyright:

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

Within this broad framework, it is the mandate of legislators to enact legislation and the judiciary to make ruilings that seek to best "promote the progress of science and useful arts" by balancing the needs for rightsholders to be motivated and the public's right to information. Some things, like national defense, are impractical or impossible to contract on a 1-v-1 basis. Likewise, it is impractical if not impossible to have a complete contract written every time any transfer or license of IP occurs. Therefore, much of what we think about IP is determined by judicious consideration of the balance. Now, you personally may not like where the balance was struck most recently. However, your statement of "grossest imaginable violation of the constitution's language" is hyperbole in the extreme, and, more to the point, absolute bollocks. Oh, I'm sorry, was I not actually supposed to cite the constitution and what it actually says? Was I supposed to take your bald assertion on faith?

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (4, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963008)

Oh, I'm sorry, was I not actually supposed to cite the constitution and what it actually says? Was I supposed to take your bald assertion on faith?

No, you were supposed to actually read what you were cutting and pasting. Specifically, the part about a "limited time."

Does your DRM scheme contain an automatic sunset provision to ensure that you actually live up to your end of the copyright bargain... the part that says your work must revert to the public domain upon expiration? If it doesn't (and let me take a wild guess here: it doesn't), then you are not operating within the bounds of copyright law as envisioned by the framers.

That's not to say that the deal you're offering is necessarily a bad one for consumers, but in any reasonable world, the minute you take steps to ensure that your content can never enter the public domain, you should no longer be entitled to legal monopoly protection. You're just another looter looking for a free ride at public expense.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (2, Interesting)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963028)

Don't be ridiculous. DRM and the expiration of copyright are irrelevant to each other. This is the worst (and most popular) form of FUD with regard to DRM. When copyrights expire, there are any number of avenues for you to leave behind your DRMed file.

Most importantly, in 50 or 60 years when the copyrights actually expire, will you still even want your 128kbps mp3? Of course not. The public domain file will be provided in a superior format from a master recording.

Moreover, there's no fundamental reason why future DRM can't include a system which automatically disables DRM upon copyright expiration. But of course, any system which checks the validity of DRM licenses would be attacked as an invasion of "privacy."

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (4, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963078)

DRM and the expiration of copyright are irrelevant to each other. When copyrights expire, there are any number of avenues for you to leave behind your DRMed file.

Really? How so? Are you aware that rightsholders are no longer required to deposit a copy of their work with the Library of Congress? That requirement was established precisely to ensure the eventual availability of protected works to the public domain, and it didn't actually go away until 1976, I believe. Without the requirement to deposit a copy in an accessible form, all of your suggested "avenues to leave the file behind" are entirely voluntary.

But I'm sure that almost everyone who takes advantage of the DMCA's anti-circumvention protection has deposited unprotected copies for release to the public domain at the appropriate time... right?

Most importantly, in 50 or 60 years when the copyrights actually expire, will you still even want your 128kbps mp3? Of course not. The public domain file will be provided in a superior format from a master recording.

Um. OK, I guess, if you say so.

Moreover, there's no fundamental reason why future DRM can't include a system which automatically disables DRM upon copyright expiration.

Then there's no fundamental reason why future laws can't be passed to take that into consideration.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (-1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963132)

The content that is being licensed with DRM is not content that will magically disappear overnight. It's not rare, it's not unique, and it's certainly not produced with DRM from the beginning. It's simply not going anywhere--there is an unencumbered form of all of it available and stored. Worrying about companies ceasing to exist is not something supported by the experience of history. Lots of publishers of music and film no longer exist--the masters and originals don't vanish into thin air when companies go bankrupt. If, in five decades, the only version of a file is the low-quality DRMed one, that is a far greater concern than any DRM mechanism surrounding it.

Don't worry about drowning at the bottom of the 400 foot cliff; it's the fall that's gonna kill you.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (2, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963080)

Most importantly, in 50 or 60 years when the copyrights actually expire, will you still even want your 128kbps mp3? Of course not. The public domain file will be provided in a superior format from a master recording.
And where, pray tell, would this recording come from? All would be fine and dandy if the original master recording is still around. But for all we know, the company having done such recording may long have gone bust, or they might still be around, but unwilling to provide it for whatever reason. So, the only way to keep companies honest would be to force them to deposit an DRM-unencumbered copy at the Library of Congress. But, AFAIK, there is no such law. And even if there were, who's gonna check that all those zillions of media deposited daily are indeed compliant?
Moreover, there's no fundamental reason why future DRM can't include a system which automatically disables DRM upon copyright expiration. But of course, any system which checks the validity of DRM licenses would be attacked as an invasion of "privacy."
Such a system would have to rely on an online server in order to be reliable. This would, as you rightfully point out, carry the potential of privacy invasion. But most importantly, who would operate such server once the copyright expires? Companies go under, you know, or they might simply claim that it is an unreasonable burden to operate such a server without economic benefit to them.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (4, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963108)

And where, pray tell, would this recording come from? All would be fine and dandy if the original master recording is still around. But for all we know, the company having done such recording may long have gone bust, or they might still be around, but unwilling to provide it for whatever reason.

Heh... stick around, and someone will eventually trot out the tried-and-true, "B-b-but there's no such thing as unbreakable protection. A friendly hacker will eventually come along and deprotect the work!" argument, using lofty-sounding language worthy of Madison himself.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963126)

Heh... stick around, and someone will eventually trot out the tried-and-true, "B-b-but there's no such thing as unbreakable protection. A friendly hacker will eventually come along and deprotect the work!" argument, using lofty-sounding language worthy of Madison himself.
However, such hacker will be punishable under DMCA if he does this while there are still copyright-protected works around protected by that DRM scheme. And that's what we object to.

On the other hand, if all works protected by the scheme are out of copyright, it would theoretically be legal to crack the scheme, but with so much fewer people interested in the works by then, there will be too little motivation (glory) to do so...

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (0, Flamebait)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963178)

"And where, pray tell, would this recording come from? All would be fine and dandy if the original master recording is still around. But for all we know, the company having done such recording may long have gone bust, or they might still be around, but unwilling to provide it for whatever reason."

Where would the master go? Are you really worried that something is going to disappear overnight? How many works of art or entertainment do you know in the modern age that are made with a single copy of a master? (Almost none) How many defunct companies have come and gone while we still retain masters of all of them? (Almost all of them). If someone won't provide a DRM-free version of a public domain work, sue them. That's actually one of the good causes for a lawsuit--it's public domain, the old rightsholder has no right to withhold it once copyright expires.

I think you grossly overestimate both the probability of loss and technical difficulty of keeping even the DRMed copies accessible into the future. Preserving interoperability with major DRM schemes is just one of many facets of digital archiving

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963226)

How many works of art or entertainment do you know in the modern age that are made with a single copy of a master?

There were few enough copies of the original star wars movies around that extensive restauration was needed when a re-run was done in the nineties... Other such cases abund. Thing is, after the initial rush, companies have very little motivation to invest in conservation of works which are no longer major money makers.

If someone won't provide a DRM-free version of a public domain work, sue them.

If they're still around by the time the incredibly long copyright terms expire...

the old rightsholder has no right to withhold it once copyright expires.

He'll just claim that he's lost it... Who's gonna prove the contrary? And it may very well be that they really lost their master (either deliberately, or accidentally due to poor care)

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963270)

"There were few enough copies of the original star wars movies around that extensive restauration was needed when a re-run was done in the nineties."

That had nothing to do with the number of copies; it was the condition that was a problem. Preservation is a global concern--how many albums from 50 years ago have been kept in good archival quality? It's not limited to masters or reproductions or consumer prints, and as filmmakers transition to keeping digital copies, condition of the physical masters will be less of a concern.

"If they're still around by the time the incredibly long copyright terms expire..."
If they don't exist, then they can't withhold anything from you, so it's a moot point.

"He'll just claim that he's lost it... Who's gonna prove the contrary?"

Again, if "he" refuses to provide a copy, then sue him. It's not refusal if you don't have it to give. If you mean to imply that companies will claim "oops, we lost it!" rather than turn it over to the public domain, there's no reason to believe that this behavior will increase in the future to an extent more than it happens today. If the copyright expires, there's no money to be made with it anymore, but there is still money to be lost by appearing to hinder access to public domain works.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963360)

Most importantly, in 50 or 60 years when the copyrights actually expire, will you still even want your 128kbps mp3? Of course not. The public domain file will be provided in a superior format from a master recording.

Because no one uses those old records and record players anymore...

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963190)

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

It doesn't say anything in the above about the public domain. It says that congress helps protect the works for authors for a limited time. Whatever happens after that is undefined. In practice, works that lose their protection are in the public domain, but you'd be a fool to think that this was a primary consideration of the framers. Why? Because the statement itself states that the purpose is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. In other words, after the copyright period is over, the author or inventor loses the exclusive right, and thus needs to author or invent more. The system works exactly as the clause says it should: protection is afforded for a limited time. You may think that the time is too long, and you are welcome to debate this, but your basic argument that because DRM-enabled items are not somehow magically placed into some public park known as the "public domain" after their terms expire is just plain grasping at straws by you.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963260)

It doesn't say anything in the above about the public domain.

Cool! I'll just head over to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and buy some plutonium, because the Second Amendment doesn't say anything about that, either.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963006)

Why exactly can't, for example, you and I come to some agreement that, for example, you write some song and I am allowed to listen to it exactly once since this we came to a mutually agreed upon price for which I agreed to listen to it only once?

That's the way we'd do it if you were a wandering minstrel and I was a local lord of the manor, five hundred years ago. So am I supposed to phone Paul McCartney if I want to play Mull of Kintyre?

A few giant media companies control copyright on most of what we listen to or watch. They don't "come to agreements" with us. They use lobbyists to get laws made to legalsie the conditions they want. There is no negotiation, unless you count "take it or leave it".

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (0)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963058)

And? When you buy a lamp, do you get to negotiate terms? No, but that's a purchase and not a license, you might say. You'd be right. But here's the rub: any transaction which takes place thousands or millions of times a year is not something which is negotiated on a case-by-case basis. It's impractical, not to mention pointless. Standard form contracts are the norm for most high-frequency business transactions.

Nobody's forcing you to listen or watch to anything. If you want access to the major media sources, you've got to play by their rules. That's the "free market" at its best--the owners and creators get to control the things they create.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963338)

That's no free market.
Copyright is a "temporary" monopoly. Free market rules do not apply.
They are not forcing you to play, but they have as a common rule, the custom of forcing you to pay for content you do not desire to use, when you want some particular content for which they are the sole suppliers.

Were there a free market, you would be able to buy just the stuff you want, and nothing else, even if it was expensive.

I'm thinking pop albums where you get 10 filler songs and pay for 12 to listen to 2, cable subscriptions where you pay for 80 channels to watch HBO, stuff like that.

Free market doesn't apply.
And you can't say that nobody is forcing you. Of course, I can choose not to pay for Cinemax, but then I wouldn't be able to use HBO, that I want. If this was a free market, I wouldn't be forced to make that choice.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963352)

You missed the point. If this were a free market, copyrights would never expire. If this were a free market in the asinine libertarian sense, there'd be no antitrust restrictions, either, except those imposed by consumers.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963366)

When you buy a lamp, do you get to negotiate terms?

      You don't have to keep paying for the lamp. And you can do what you want with it. There's no EULA for lamps, IIRC - of course, I haven't been in the US for a while, things may have changed...

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963026)

Why exactly should this arbitrary limit be the limit?


Because this is the domain of copyright - limiting the right to copy to the copyright holder, except in cases of fairuse.

Copyright is not meant to limit what I can do, like circumvent hardware to get at that copy to make a backup or to make the hardware do as I please (like say put linux on my macbook), in the privacy of my own home.

That's like saying I can't legally use music sheets to scribble notes on if I like it.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963276)

"I am allowed to listen to it exactly once"

thats called radio

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

ady1 (873490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962838)

I hope this helps the US catchup with rest of the world in terms of cellular technology. Though it could make the handsets more pricey

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963022)

...crap that I buy and should be used in a manner I see fit short of mass distributing it to other anonymous people.


So if you "see fit" to distribute any number of copies that falls short of "mass" to "anonymous" people, or a "mass" quanitiy to people whose identity you know (including for money) then the law should specifically allow you to do so? That would undermine copyright law entirely. Is that what you want?


Seems to me you're so mad at the DMCA that you've lost your ability to see both sides of the issue.

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963066)

The thing is that you get cellphones for free (or for a low price, depending on how fancy the phone is) if you're on a contract, so making it possible to switch to any provider would mean you can get your phone for free - though presumably if you cancel your contract you'd have to give the phone back

Re:How about not treating me like a criminal in th (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963192)

But why should this be our problem? You can buy a prefectly good mobile phone quite cheaply. Even if you couldn't, the networks are under no obligation to offer subsidised phones. Even if they were, they get their money back through long lock-in periods. Not the inability to reuse the phone. The lock-in is just a means to increase the cost for other companies to compete for their business when the contract expires.

sweet (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962710)

turkey and some decent rules

what a good day

Re:sweet (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962984)

most decent rules ARE found under a turnkey

As if anyone cares? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962712)

With copyright laws being so complicated and contradicting, people care less and less about them. Since it's virtually impossible not to break them, a general "I'm prolly guilty already anyway, who cares?" attitude is spreading.

The more laws you have, the more crime you create.

Re:As if anyone cares? (4, Insightful)

robpoe (578975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962804)

Interesting viewpoint - and one I highly agree with.

I wouldn't care so much about DRM - because I don't re-share files. If I purchase music, I'd like the opportunity to do with it as I see fit - and might even put the digital music on a family member's computer/music player.

Take Peanut Press for example. They encrypt(ed?) their books with your full name and credit card #. I didn't mind putting that on a few trusted friend's PDA's - but I'm not going to re-distribute it across hell and back.

I wouldn't even mind some kind of secure but un-protected form of music / content.

The digital content I purchased is watermarked in some un-removable way. If I share that music, then I'm liable in some form. Or I lose my ability to purchase more. That would work even better than losing my rights to what I already have. I'd be careful about my files if that were the case..

Re:As if anyone cares? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963070)

Can you imagine some guy taking your credit card info, purchasing lots of DRMed file protected by your name/CC# as you describe and then torrenting the hell out of them?

Now the company sues you.

I sure can imagine it. CC info theft is nearly trivial and not uncommon.

There are also holes in your other thoughts - files on a Windows computer can be distributed without owner's knowledge. I can imagine bots that spefically look for those files after they infect their host. And then send them into the ether.

About you not minding DRM - that's noble of you. But I want to wait on you decision after you change a couple of music players, the formats of your videos change, and E-books become the norm but not a standard. When your friends can't swap movies, music, etcetera with you because you all have different players that are completly incompitable with each other not because of a hardware problem (being digital) but as a programmed in limitation.

Great ideas you have. Very noble, sacrificing your rights to the poor corporations in all our names so you can have some shortterm convenience. Thanks for playing the idiot game. Please come again.

Think of the implications (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963122)

What happens when your laptop gets stolen? What happens when someone implants a trojan on your computer that allows him free access to your data?

There are so many opportunities for (and cases of) data theft that being liable for the leaking could well be a can of worms you don't even want to think about opening.

Re:As if anyone cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962820)

Yes well... copyright last basically forever, and these exemptions are set to expire in three years.

Says it all really.

Re:As if anyone cares? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963102)

Actually, the more laws you have, the more the system is constrained to act rationally.

Consider this. There is one law (I'll steal a commandment): Thou shalt not kill.

Every soldier, police officer, self-defending individual, hunter, hell--anyone who's ever stepped on an ant has broken the law. It doesn't say anything about killing other humans, or whether the killing was intentional or justified. Law is complicated; there are many good reasons why lawyers are specialized professionals--a lot of law is based on theory and social principles and it's not just common sense. Along the same vein, the literally thousands of statutes involving unnatural death don't make more criminals, they make far fewer. Complexity is not a vice.

In other words, my point is this. The more laws you have, the more crimes you create--that's a simple logical truth. However, the converse is not true, which really undermines the point of that clever little statement: fewer laws do not make fewer criminals.

Re:As if anyone cares? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963160)

The 10 commandments are a very good example of laws that should be applied with a sensible brain. Too bad its fiercest advocates usually lack the latter.

That's the reason why we have judges, not judging machines. The theory behind it is that a judge can sensibly apply a law and, given some leeway, can come up with sensible verdicts that make sense in the context of the case at hand.

But the legislative doesn't want to hand over that much responsibility to the third power. So we get more laws with more exceptions, which creates laws that apply pretty much only in a very specific case under very specific circumstances.

But the commandments were a prime example of 'good and simple' laws. Hand them to a sensible judge and it's all you need. But that's not what we want, we don't want judges to have decisive power. Yes, some judges are just plain out lunatics. Most are quite level headed individuals, though, who know quite well what far reaching effects their decisions can have.

Personally, if I'm ever in court, I want my trial to be decided on a per case base, with a judge weighing the evidence and coming up with a verdict, instead of being predetermined by legal red tape. Such verdicts are usually very unfair.

Re:As if anyone cares? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963214)

Precisely. The only difference is that the commandments aren't simple, and they aren't always easy to apply. There is quite a lot of disagreement about "common sense" interpretations as well, and it all boils down to politics. One of the things they try to shove down your throat in law school is that law is meant to be apolitical--it's a load of crap. Nothing in this world is apolitical, and that's the simple truth. Everything will boil down to personal experience; some judges are going to be sympathetic to minority voices being drowned out by the masses, others are going to take particularly hard stances on people who put others into danger. This isn't good or bad, but merely human.

The law is a framework, a vision. It grows and evolves and through its complexity, we get consistency. There is substantial agreement on certain aspects of law which remain unwritten, but the bulk of law serves a purpose to clarify and exemplify. When making a decision, judges rely on the law as much as possible and minimize the amount of "arbitrary calls"--but they're not thoughtless machines and they do respond to individual merits and circumstances. "The law is most like an afghan," as one of my old professors used to say. It's woven tightly enough to cover your ass, and it's got room to breathe and stretch, but the harder you stretch, the more resistance you feel.

Re:As if anyone cares? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963340)

Actually, the more laws you have, the more the system is constrained to act rationally.

      Let me change that - the more laws you have, the more you have an illusion that the system is acting rationally.

      Thou shalt not kill has been around quite a while. Ever since there were laws, in fact. Tell me - has it worked?

Re:As if anyone cares? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963184)

> With copyright laws being so complicated and contradicting, people care less and less about them.

This isn't about copyright - it's about locking a phone so that it can only be used on one network. Many phones can be unlocked via codes you can download off the net, or - in the UK at least - can be performed for you at a small cost by a guy with a laptop and the right software. It's already legal here - in fact, networks are required to unlock phones in most circumstances for a small fee. It's just cheaper and generally more convenient to do it yourself.

This sets a bad precedent (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962714)

Namely, the precedent of whitelisting the allowed activity in terms of excercising the fair-use rights.

Re:This sets a bad precedent (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962948)

Actually, it's whitelisting actions which are/were categorically illegal at the present time. Whether or not they should have been made illegal in the first place is a separate issue. This isn't a bad precedent; in fact, it's not a precedent at all, really.

Re:This sets a bad precedent (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963272)

This is along the same lines of Alexander Hamilton's problem with the Bill of Rights. You shouldn't have to enumerate the rights the people have, they have them all! When you list them, you implicitely say that's all the rights they have.

Technicalities (5, Insightful)

moatra (1019690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962758)

In a purely technical point of view, what's the difference between being allowed to break the lock on your cell phone to enjoy its use to the fullest extent, and say, breaking the lock on your music to use it to its fullest extent? After all, you still paid for both.

Re:Technicalities (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962792)

In a purely technical point of view, what's the difference between being allowed to break the lock on your cell phone to enjoy its use to the fullest extent, and say, breaking the lock on your music to use it to its fullest extent? After all, you still paid for both.

I might buy a phone for $1 and pay it off over 24 months. If I break the lock I am not paying for the phone. If I buy a CD of music the supplier doesn't lose anything if I shift it to a different format.

Re:Technicalities (2, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963020)

I might buy a phone for $1 and pay it off over 24 months. If I break the lock I am not paying for the phone.

Presumably you signed a contract to pay or subscribe to some service. The contract is still enforcible legally, they just can't hold your phone hostage by locking it up.

Re:Technicalities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962800)

> After all, you still paid for both.

You did not. A locked down mobile phone can only work with the network card (SIM) of a particular carrier, but you get the hardware (the shiny mobile handset) for 1/3rd or 1/4th of the actual price of its manufacture. The SIM restriction is a technical guarantee to ensure you will not break the terms of your contract you signed with the telco, in which you agreed to keep using their services for N years (usually 1 to 3 years) in exchange for the subsidized handset. It is fair and no library has power to ruin the terms of a private contract in a market economy. As soon as the N years lapsed you can de-code the phone. Before N years lapses, you are required to pay back the subsidy if you want the SIM-lock removed. Decoding without it carries up to 3 years in prison (same category as hacking a webserver or distributing viruses).

This is the only kind of lockdown I have seen in Europe. There certainly cannot be a lockdown, where the phone is crippled in functionality (e.g. will not record video even though it has built-in camera). Telcos are interested in giving you the most feature-rich handset possible, since they want revenue from videophone, multimedia messaging and over-the phone music purchases, etc.

Re:Technicalities (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962956)

I bought my phone as a pre-paid mobile handset, and I never signed any contract saying that I must stay with the telco in question for any length of time. However, my phone is locked into the telco I bought it from - shouldn't I be allowed to unlock it after some length of time has passed (I know that they probably heavily subsidised the handset, but unlike a phone on a plan there is no expiry date on my sim lock)? I wish they'd pass that law in this country, because I want the ability to be able to switch telcos, especially considering that I signed no contract saying that I would stay with them.

Re:Technicalities (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963002)

Yes, this is the usual practice in the UK. In Belgium the practice (and law) is that all phones sell at full price and are unlocked.

Re:Technicalities (2, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963118)

Yes, this is the usual practice in the UK. In Belgium the practice (and law) is that all phones sell at full price and are unlocked.
And in Luxembourg you have the choice. Either pay full price, and have free choice of provider, or subscribe with shop's affiliated provider, and pay less (... and have to stay for a set amount of time with a plan with non-zero monthly due).

If you actually use your phone for a non-trivial amount and switch back to a zero-monthly-due plan as soon as possible, you'll usually come out ahead taking the plan.

AFAIK, there are no technical locks, only contractual obligations (i.e. you can actually switch to another provider; but if you do, you still need to pay the monthly due to the provider that you don't use).

Re:Technicalities (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963204)

In Belgium the practice (and law) is that all phones sell at full price and are unlocked.

Interesting then that the price difference between a lot of phone models in Belgium vs. Rest of Europe is minimal or nil.

Check out The Phone House/Carphone Warehouse catalogs from different countries and you'll see. they exist in most of the EU.

Not the only lockout. (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963138)

Vodafone at the very least, disabled the Bluetooth OBEX protocol on my Motorola V3 to make it harder to copy objects to and from the phone.

This is done firstly to encourage sales of their third-party phone management software, and secondly to increase their revenues from the likes of reverse SMS services for ringtone purchases and the like.

Telcos are only interested in giving you a feature rich handset in so far as they benefit from your use of those features. Features that allow you to enjoy the phone without their financial participation are less well supported.

Re:Technicalities (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963246)

Let's say you buy a phone locked to a certain Telco, which has a license to operate a GSM/UMTS Network in your country. You go on vacation to a country where they don't have such license. In all fairness, the phone should allow foreign SIM cards, allowing you to choose between:

a) paying extra for the roaming service, thus allowing you to use your own number while abroad;
b) pay whatever is the normal price for services from a local provider.

Since the provider locks your phone, you have no such choice and competition is limited. I wonder which should be the ilegal action here, locking or unlocking phones?

Re:Technicalities (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963300)

Well, the key difference is that you own the phone. You don't own the music you bought and you didn't pay for the rights to use it "to the fullest extent." You paid for a license granting you specific rights, rights which do not include ownership in any consequential form.

I'm not saying that's the way it should be, but since nobody has bothered to answer your question technically, there it is.

Read or Die? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962760)

When you buy a mobile phone subscription with a locked-down handset bundled, you get the hardware at vastly reduced price and you undersign to stay with that carrier for N years. No matter what the Library says, if you hack the phone and use it with other carrier before N years expire, you owe the subsidy money back to the original telco. They funded you from their private property and you broke the contract. Private property is sancto-sanct or America is no more.

Without the cheap locked-down handset bundle, mobile telephony market could never take off in the first place, since handsets were truly expensive. I think Europe is smarter than USA and will not destroy the lock-down supported expansion of mobile telephony. Europe and its GSM system is much ahead of americans in mobile communications and cannot alow it to collapse.

Otherwise, I thought USA is governed by President, Representatives and Senate. The only Library that had government power was in the japanese anime "Read or Die" and that was the British Library. Who is a library to decide what can be hacked? That is a matter of legislation, reserved for the authority of elected officials only.

Re:Read or Die? (2, Informative)

minusX (967653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962790)

[i]I think Europe is smarter than USA and will not destroy the lock-down supported expansion of mobile telephony. Europe and its GSM system is much ahead of americans in mobile communications and cannot alow it to collapse.[/i] What do you mean? I know a few places in Europe where they REQUIRE companies to unlock the devices if users ask.

Re:Read or Die? (4, Informative)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962794)

In the UK unlocking has not damaged the industry at all. Here you sign a contract; you can't break the contract, so therefore even if you unlock your phone, you still have to pay the remainder of your contract.

That sorts it all out in one.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

arachnoprobe (945081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962864)

That's basically the same everywhere. But some of the phones are sold for less than that (price + contract payment factored in) than buying them without a contract, because the providers want to make money with your phone calls. So you could buy such a subsidized phone and get another (cheaper) contract elsewhere. Happens a lot with "PrePaid"/"Pay as you go" bundles.

Re:Read or Die? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962870)

> In the UK unlocking has not damaged the industry at all

Maybe in Britain it does not hurt. But in the rest of Europe, especially to the east, where people are not that rich, most mobile phones are running on pre-paid scheme instead of monthly subscription.

You pay once to have a phone number assigned to you and get a SIM-locked handset (for cheap due to big subsidy from the telco) but if you actually want to talk on it, you have to buy creditcard sized vouchers with a taped over code. Remove the tape, type the long keycode into the handset and send it in SMS short message to a service number. The voucher is invalidated and your SIM card is credited with the amount of money or talktime.

So if you decode the phone and then move to another telco, the original telco who subsidized you, obviously will not get any of his money back via services. This is why unauthorized decoding is a crime and harshly prosecuted. The gov't knows that mobile telecomms development is crucial for any modern economy, so the fair business interests of telcos must be protected because installing a nationwide mobile comm network cost them billions in funds and telcos are not charities!

It is true that telco must decode if you ask - after you paid them the flat fee, about 100 USD (20,000HUF in local currency). Without that it is a crime.

Re:Read or Die? (2, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963174)

You pay once to have a phone number assigned to you and get a SIM-locked handset (for cheap due to big subsidy from the telco) but if you actually want to talk on it, you have to buy creditcard sized vouchers with a taped over code. Remove the tape, type the long keycode into the handset and send it in SMS short message to a service number. The voucher is invalidated and your SIM card is credited with the amount of money or talktime.

Yeah, I have one --- I spend maybe 15 UKP a year on call charges. But surely, who sells subsidised pay-as-you-go phones? Everywhere I've looked, and I've recently upgraded to a new phone so I've looked quite hard, the pay-as-you-go price for a phone is considerably more expensive than the contract price for exactly this reason.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963320)

But in the rest of Europe, especially to the east, where people are not that rich

      Is Costa Rica richer than eastern europe then? Here, you pay full price for your phone - $150 or so. Then you pay a sign up fee for your phone line, and pay by the minute. And everyone and their dog has a cell phone here. The relative wealth of a country does not come into it!!! Subsidizing phones is a lock-in scheme by cell phone companies, nothing more, and nothing less.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

burndive (855848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962878)

Here in the USA they have contracts too, but they also want the extra assurances provided by making your phone useless with any other provider.

Re:Read or Die? (2, Informative)

badzilla (50355) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963176)

The EU and UK are not approaching unlocking rights from the point of view of copyright protection, rather they see it as a "restraint of trade" lawful competition issue where locking interferes with your consumer rights to dump one network and prefer the services of another.

Re:Read or Die? (3, Informative)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962814)

I think the mobile phone industry can take off just fine without locked down handsets.

I live in Europe and I have never seen or heard of anyone who has their phones functionality locked down. Most people don't buy phones here, they get them for "free" when they sign up to a years contract. At the end of the year you get an upgrade to a new handset and can keep the old one and do what you like with it including using it on other networks.

Re:Read or Die? (4, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962874)

You must be new.
It was quite usual to have a "SIM lock" on phones provided for free, especially with pre-paid contracts (where you pay a certain amount for a number of call minutes, can call for that amount of time, and then have to pay again to continue using the phone).
As there is no fixed-term contract with monthly payment in this construction, the only way to cover the cost of the phone is/was for the provider to hope that you buy enough call minutes.
To prevent you from changing the SIM to one of another provider (with cheaper call minutes, for example), they "had" to lock the phone to the SIM.
However, after a certain amount of time you could request a code to release this lock. Or you could use a hack and have it released immediately.

Re:Read or Die? (3, Interesting)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963222)

You guys are totally off the track, they're not talking about SIM locks. They're talking about software locks, which is the ability to install software on your phone that for example allows you to play mp3's or view divx videos which are not DRM protected. Not whether you can get a cheap phone on a contract then break the contract and go to another carrier with cheaper call rates, that has nothing to do with this at all.

I have some experience developing applications for Microsoft Windows mobile smartphones. They have always allowed vendors to choose what level the OS is locked down. By default the Windows Mobile OS is not locked down, which is something I must commend Microsoft for, however vendors of mobile phones can choose to change this such that the Windows Mobile OS is either totally locked down i.e. doesn't allow any 3rd party applications to be installed or run, or locked in such a way that the user is prompted to verify software should be run that has not authorised by the mobile phone vendor.

This is a discussion about whether or not small DEVELOPERS can get into developing applications for the mobile market or whether it is going to be left to the big players to decide what software we're allowed to have on our handsets.

As mobile phones become increasingly more like mobile pcs, this is a big issue. If the day comes when this is the platform on the market, and XP, Linux and all other desktop flavours of operating systems are history, which is actually quite a likely scenario, then how locked down a system is to 3rd party developers becomes a major issue for personal liberty and freedom of choice. If we cannot choose what software we can develop and run on our computers we have lost our ability to communicate freely.

Basically I simply don't think any locked down system is going to prevail simply because the market will ultimately reject it in favour of who ever supplies a system that is not locked down. In terms of features no locked down system is going to compete with another that allows any developer in the world to create new applications for it.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963292)

What do you mean? I thought only Japan applied software locks to their phones like that. I've never seen a non-Japanese phone that required DRM for music loaded into the phone, so if taken your way, this really does nothing. Now I've thought that unlocking was legal in the US, so I don't know why it needed to be mentioned specifically either.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963304)

Sadly I'm not really all that new.

I, and the article were talking about locking the phones functionality e.g. not being allowed to use bluetooth to synch with your computers address book and therefore being forced instead to use an expensive alternative service provided by the telco.

I know the sim card on phones is locked but in most cases you can have it unlocked by cancelling your contract and paying some cash to the provider. You can also probably unlock the sim yourself or find someone to do it for you.

I've no problem with SIM locks, if you're getting a phone for "free" it's fair enough the provider wants to make sure they get they money back by you using the service.

What I don't think is fair is the standard functionality of your phone being crippled in order to force you to pay out more in unexpected costs, I've never seen this in the UK ( which is probably because anyone trying it would find all their potential new customers migrating elsewhere ) and I'm glad that it's being addressed in the US.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

pangloss (25315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962918)

if you hack the phone and use it with other carrier before N years expire, you owe the subsidy money back to the original telco

Without speaking to what a particular carrier contract says or does not say, hacking a phone in and of itself to work with another carrier before the initial contract expires doesn't seem to violate the spirit of the subsidy. Hacking the phone doesn't mean I'm not still paying the original carrier fees for the duration of the initial contract. It just means the phone is no longer locked to a particular carrier (consider traveling abroad with the phone when the original carrier is not willing to unlock the phone).

I think Europe is smarter than USA and will not destroy the lock-down supported expansion of mobile telephony. Europe and its GSM system is much ahead of americans in mobile communications and cannot alow it to collapse

In the first place, it's generally a lot easier to either get an unlocked handset or unlock a locked handset in Europe (at least the U.K., France, and Italy) than in the U.S. Secondly, as a matter of pure conjecture: the very ease of switching carriers may be what contributed to increased competition and thereby, advancements in in technology and services in Europe vs. U.S. Finally, of course it isn't GSM itself that is "much ahead of americans": I think it's hard to argue that GSM is definitively superior to CDMA, especially given that the immediate upgrade path for GSM appears to be (W-)CDMA. I certainly prefer GSM to CDMA, but this is more an artifact of being able to swap SIM cards when traveling, not because I think TDMA is superior to CDMA (that and I can't seem to use data and voice services simultaneously with the CDMA version of my phone, but I don't know what exactly is responsible for that).

As for Read or Die, that was a fun anime (the OAV, haven't seen the TV series).

Re:Read or Die? (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962922)

Your analysis is not far wrong, but there is no need to involve copyright in this situation.

You buy a subsidised product based on paying for it over an N-month contract, and you either stick to that contract or you don't.

If you break the contract, they should sue you for that. Period.

The mobile phone market took off in the EU long before the EUCD broguht anything like the DMCA, and the "lock-down" is completely ineffective even now.

That the US mobile market is behind the EU is nothing to do with copyright - the US generally lags the richer EU nations on broadband penetration too, what is the copyright issue there ?

Re:Read or Die? (1)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962998)

You buy a subsidised product based on paying for it over an N-month contract, and you either stick to that contract or you don't.

My daughter reached the end of her contract with T-Mobile, renewed and got a new phone. She wanted to give her sister the old phone, to use with a Cingular account. Even though T-Mobile has a policy that allows customers to get the unlock codes after about 90 days (I think) of starting a contract, she can't get an unlock code for that old phone. I took it to a local cellphone repair shop, and they said they couldn't unlock it either. They didn't even touch it, just took one look and said "no". It's a Siemens phone.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963296)

What model? If you can, look online and you can find unlock cables- one end gos into the cellphone, one end goes into the computer, and software (should come with the cable) can find the lock and break it. Alternatively, try a shop that imports cellphones. You'll find them somewhat more willing if you don't want to get your own unlock cable.

Re:Read or Die? (3, Informative)

moatra (1019690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962950)

Otherwise, I thought USA is governed by President, Representatives and Senate. The only Library that had government power was in the japanese anime "Read or Die" and that was the British Library. Who is a library to decide what can be hacked? That is a matter of legislation, reserved for the authority of elected officials only.
The Library of Congress houses the U.S. Copyright Office. Thus, the current Librarian of Congress had the Copyright office pass the following regulation: Exemption to Prohibition against Circumvention [loc.gov] . They did so with the authority given to them in Title 17 of the US Code Section 1201(a)(1)(C) [copyright.gov] . So yes, they were within their legal bounds... too bad it only lasts for 3 years though.

Re:Read or Die? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963298)

you owe the subsidy money back to the original telco. They funded you from their private property and you broke the contract. Private property is sancto-sanct or America is no more.

    I'm getting tired of hearing this you know. It's the same argument companies make with game consoles, for instance. "Oh but you can't do that, because we're actually selling the console at a loss so we can profit from selling you games".

      Wake up and find a new business model. Which idiot thought he could make money by selling something at a loss and then forcing people to accept the terms of their contract? Contracts must be negotiated by BOTH parties. "Sign here" to 30 pages of miceprint is ridiculous, and this case just proves it.

      "Oh but we wouldn't be able to sell any phones then". BS. I live in Costa Rica, and I can afford a $150 phone. Everyone has a phone here. A lot of people have to finance to get it, but phones still sell at regular prices. If EVERYONE had to pay full price for their phone, there would not be a problem. This is just yet another pathetic excuse for vendor lock in. And they expect sympathy?

Oh really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962798)

So now I can break software locks for cellphones?
Oh really?
I took this right for granted.

Once I bought something, it's mine and I can do whatever I want with it.

Smart phones? (2, Interesting)

minusX (967653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962824)

It'd be very interesting to see how this might affect smart phones which have data services tied to carriers(like the Sidekick.)

Cellphone locks (2, Interesting)

eraserewind (446891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962848)

Are not easily breakable except on earlier phones I'm afraid. SIM lock is not like DRM. It is possible to do it properly. For these kind of rulings to be meaningful they need to be backed up by regulation mandating that carriers give the key to unlock it (or not do it in the first place).

Examples? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962866)

I'm here in China, and they busted my phone out from under Cingular in about 30 seconds. It's a newish RAZR (V3)... what phones are un-unlockable, and what's the difference between hacking the OS on a phone and a computer? Do cellphones have hardware restrictions on their usage?

Re:Examples? (2, Insightful)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962942)

Of course there is a difference between what would be theoretically possible, and what measures manufacturers are willing to take.
It would also be possible to make the IMEI (the hardware ID) of the phone really immutable, but in practice it seems to be easier for manufacturers to put it in flash memory where after shorter or longer time it becomes possible to change it via hacker tools.

There are different parties involved. Equipment manufacturers, service providers, service technicians, customers. Each has different requirements.
A customer may like a hardwired unique IMEI and would like to see a lockout list for stolen equipment, because that protects him from phone robbery. However, the service provider does not like to lockout stolen phones, because it means a lost potential customer.
A service technician may have to copy the IMEI from old to new phone when he replaces a board, but having this possibility often means that tools are available that allow the change of IMEI, making a lockout based on IMEI inpractical (and this fact is used as a convenient excuse by service providers).

The SIM lock situation is similar. Service providers like it, but manufacturers, technicians and customers probably don't. So again there often are tools to work around it, and they invariably leak out.

Re:Examples? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963310)

tools are available that allow the change of IMEI
So it IS possible... I was confused when I once bought a phone and it had a different IMEI on the box, the software, and the phone itself. That was a Japanese import with no warranty, so I can't exactly complain, though.

An example: my t610 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16963096)

I unlocked my Sony Ericsson T610 by replacing tmobile's branded firmware w/a newer generic version. This was done via a special program and cable you can find online. That said, I had it done at an authorized dealer rather than doing it myself

The reason I chose and continue to use T-Mobile incidentally is that their policy is to send you unlock keys for your phone (via email) once you've had the phone for something like six months upon request so that when travelling abroad (europe and asia use the GSM network) you can buy a local phone SIM chip and use it in your phone. I know T-Mobile will unlock the phone firsthand. Before the T610, I had a motorola phone and they emailed me the unlock code for it as well.

When I got to Europe, I purchased a local phone (vodaphone was the company) SIM card for 10 euro and was able to make local calls with my regular cell. When I returned to the states, I just popped the old SIM card back in and was back in business.

Without having unlocked the phone, the european SIM card would not have worked.

If you have T-Mobile, call them and tell them you are travelling and would like to unlock your phone. They will email you the password. Unless their policy has changed. This is the #1 reason I recommend T-Mobile to people deciding on a cell service and I think it's pretty cool of them to allow this. (I mean, I think it should be the NORM, but kudos to them for doing it anyway).

Note I don't work for T-Mobile, etc. Call and ask before you sign up if this policy is still in effect and any details (required usage before they'll send you the code, etc.)

Not good news (1)

lostngone (855272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962888)

Until now I don't think I have anything in my contract that stipulates I have to use the phone supplied to me by my carrier so I can use my hacked CDMA phone. With this law I can see the carriers mandating in the contract that you can only use phoned supplied by them and then start turning of non-branded phones.

Oh, you're being granted "use" back again. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962904)

From TFA:

  "Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations"

In my day, we called this "fair use", and were allowed to do this as an exemption from general copyright rules.

From TFA:
"let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books."

In my day, we called this "use". It's why we buy the item in the first place - in order to use it. Not in order to sign a scarecrow EULA once the box is open.

Well done America - granting temporary rights to people that they should already have.

Re:Oh, you're being granted "use" back again. (3, Interesting)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963318)

To call this "granting" rights would be a misrepresentation. This is nothing more or less than an attempt to restore certain rights which were made (erroneously) illegal because of the DMCA and related legislation. It's a temporary policy not necessarily out of malice, but simply for convenience in writing legislation. Adding more laws to the books on a permanent basis without observing their consequences might just create an even bigger headache.

Low opinion of government notwithstanding, the fact that this is coming under mandatory review in 3 years is a good thing. Once again, Slashdot attacks people in government for doing the right thing (in this case, taking steps to correct a previous wrong). Do you honestly think that Congress got together and said, "let's take away our own rights and the rights of our constituents, too!" or is it possible that the DMCA simply fell victim to expert lobbying and a level of severity that simply wasn't anticipated?

Requirements for usage restricted equipment (3, Insightful)

ZorroXXX (610877) | more than 7 years ago | (#16962906)

Regarding locked-down handsets, there are two requirements that I think should be imposed. When companies sell equipment that has (technical) usage restrictions from its normal, unlimited usage
  1. such usage restrictions must be time limited (i.e. no phones that never can be used with another operator)
  2. the customer should always have the choice to buy either a restricted or unrestricted version (i.e. a shop cannot only offer to sell you a given phone as part of a subsidized deal, if you want to buy that phone with no restrictions at full price you should be able to do so (at whatever price the shop would classify as full price. I do not want to impose any rules for this, only the principle that the customer always can choose))

Re:Requirements for usage restricted equipment (2, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963308)

I think point 2 is already done. The prices are too high for you and me to afford. Like $340 for a Moto V3 Razr in RadioShack (unlocked). So that makes us automatically go for the locked one.
Actually its predatory marketing.
The recent LoC ruling states that you can buy a Locked phone, break the lock and go scot-free.
Am sure this "mistake" would be corrected by Telcos when the next congress convenes, making it illegal to unlock any phone.
Expect a hidden bill whose story would splashing in YRO Slashdot in Feb '07 about this.

Enjoy while it lasts. Better yet buy as many locked phones, unlock and sell them elsewhere...

Library of Congress? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16962954)

Since when the fuck does anyone give two-shits what the library of congress says? Where'd they get this authority????

Re:Library of Congress? (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963056)

Since when the fuck does anyone give two-shits what the library of congress says?

1998.

Where'd they get this authority????

From the DMCA, which gets its authority from the US government, which in turn gets its authority from the voters of the US.

Re:Library of Congress? (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963266)

From the DMCA, which gets its authority from the US government, which in turn gets its authority from the voters^H^H^H^H^H^H corporations of the US.

      There, all fixed...

hard questions (3, Insightful)

mitchskin (226035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963004)

He's just opened up some pretty tough definition questions. Who counts as a "security researcher"? Who counts as a "film professor"?

Sign up now to be a faculty member in the film department of my brand new internet university!

Beginning to look like tax law... (2, Insightful)

imaniack (638051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963042)

This is a blow to FOSS, anti-copyright and anti-paten movement. Implicit in this examption is that the other kind of activities are not exampt. (or maybe it's not all that implicit after all, but I am not a lawyer...) Also, if they are beginning to exampt this and that group of people for various reason, where they will stop? This area of law is relatively young and not all things has been sorted out yet, and introducing these sort of complication at this point in time seems not in the best interest of public.

This smells like the very first step in becoming like US tax law: an unfair system benefitting mostly rent seekers that cannot even be fixed due to too much entanglement of too many different special interest groups.

DeCss now legal? (3, Insightful)

thue (121682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963072)

will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations

Which you can only do by bypassing the copy protection. Does this make DeCSS [wikipedia.org] legal, and the "no breaking encryption" clause of the DMCA void?

Don't understand (2, Interesting)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963088)

Hi all,

    I don't really follow the bit about being allowed to copy snippets from a DVD. How exactly are you allowed to do that legally? Does that mean it's okay to use DeCSS for such a purpose? Can decss now be legally shipped with distros "for the express purpose of only copying snippets" ?

    If cracking a DVD is still illegal, then does is this kinda like the right for a man to bear children. We can't actually do it, but we now have the right :) ?

Cell phones (2, Informative)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963116)

I think this was enacted for a few reasons, the one that most specifically has to do with me is the cell phone section. I recently subscribed to Verizon for my cell phone service. I bought a Motorola V3M as a friend of mine (with another carrier) had one. Well, much to my chagrin many of the things he could do with his I could not (such as take a snippet of music I own and use it for a ring tone) due to the cripple ware they installed with there phones. They actually removed functionality in an effort to make me have to purchase ring tones and wallpapers from them. I personally am getting sick and tired of having to pay over and over again for the same song/video/etc, and hopefully this will go a long way towards fixing the problem.

In Soviet Russia... (4, Informative)

monktus (742861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963134)

...or actually the rest of the world, it's generally neither illegal or impractical to unlock a mobile for use on any network. AFAIK, the only UK networks who still SIM lock their phones are Orange and T-Mobile (and maybe 3, I forget), and you can get most phones unlocked for about a tenner.

I did so recently with an old SonyEricsson from T-Mobile when I discovered that my Orange Windows Mobile powered PDA was useless as a phone.

The mobile market in the US seems a bit peculiar generally.

No payola? (2, Insightful)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16963168)

I guess the cell phone companies didn't get their checks in to their congresscritters' campaigns in time.
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