TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Unlocking Cell Phones Does Not Violate DMCA

Re: Unlocking Cell Phones Does Not Violate DMCA

Mr Joseph Singer (
Mon, 11 Dec 2006 10:52:09 PST

Sun, 10 Dec 2006 01:02:58 -0500 Monty Solomon quoted a snippet from an

> Excerpt from:

> [Federal Register: November 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 227)]
> [Rules and Regulations]
> [Page 68472-68480]

> LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Office 37 CFR Part 201 Docket No. RM
> 2005-11 Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright
> Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies

> 5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless
> telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication
> network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of
> lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

What this article fails to point out is several things among them th1at
"unlocking" has been available for GSM phones for as long as there has
been GSM. The carriers locked the handsets they sell to their
subscribers so that their subscriber will not take the handset that
the carrier has subsidized (either giving you the phone outright or
giving the subscriber a siezeable discount towards the price of the

It fails to mention among other things that even unlocking a handset
does not make it work with a technology for which is was not designed
e.g. you cannot use a handset from T-Mobile on VeriZon or vice versa
if only because VeriZon uses CDMA technology for an air interface and
T-Mobile uses the GSM air interface.

Other arguments from parties such as TracFone that it will cause
pricing to increase is a red herring since the handsets can only be
used in the US or North America even with the firmware modified.

And as far as modifying firmware unless you are in a business that
does that sort of thing it's not the kind of thing you're going to
easily find. Without a firmware revision TracFone and Net10 handsets
will not work with anything other than TracFone or Net10.

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