10-06-16 06:18 PM
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  1. UnlockJunction's Avatar
    We often get questions about the legality of unlocking a cell phone, and I figured that sharing this information with all of you might calm any concerns about unlocking. Simply put, it is 100% legal to unlock a mobile phone in the United States.

    Although the answer is simple, there is a rich history of legal action on this topic, and a few years ago, the answer was not as defined as it is today. For many years, telecommunication service providers have used software locks in mobile phone operating systems to prevent customers from using devices on a competitors network. Device owners who want to use their phone on another network (i.e a customer wants to use their T-Mobile branded and locked phone on AT&T) must disable this locking software by accessing the mobile firmware and enabling the device to work on any network.

    In 2005, many of the largest wireless carriers and cell phone manufacturers stepped up their challenges to businesses and individuals who were unlocking devices, claiming that any attempt to disable the mobile firmware of a cell phone constituted a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. The DMCA is a 1998 law that extended copyright protection online, and criminalized the production and dissemination of technology whose primary purpose is to circumvent measures taken to protect copyright, not merely infringement of copyright itself. While certain software and applications were considered exempt from the DMCA, cellular phone unlocking was not specifically addressed.

    In response to the moves of the wireless carriers and manufacturers, a consumer advocate by the name of Robert Pinkerton joined forces with a cellular phone recycling company, The Wireless Alliance, and filed a request with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress for an exemption to the DMCA for mobile phone unlocking. The request notes that:

    Using a mobile handset on a different network is clearly non-infringing activity. The customer is not copying the firmware, nor is he exercising any exclusive right the copyright owner has in the mobile firmware. Rather, the circumventor accesses the firmware merely to reprogram it to work on a different network, or to utilize a different SIM card.

    Furthermore, the petition cited a number of reasons that cellular phone unlocking should be exempt. Bundling of mobile phones (hardware) and wireless service subscriptions is common practice in the United States, but by locking mobile phones to a network and refusing to allow consumers to utilize the hardware on a competitors network, the carriers raised switching costs and created an anti-competitive environment, with attendant higher costs and lower quality of service. Additionally, by locking mobile phones, carriers contributed to higher than necessary rates of device turnover, adding to the significant problem of electronic waste. Lastly, because locked phones cannot be used overseas, the carriers contributed to the digital divide between nations, as poorer nations suffered from lack of access to technology that was locked to U.S. carriers.

    In November of 2006, the United States Register of Copyrights finally issued a ruling, and exempted mobile phone unlocking from the DMCA, specifically offering protection to: Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.

    In 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office extended DMCA exemptions to cover Apple iPhone Jailbreaking and further reinforced the prior decision to exempt mobile phone unlocking for changing wireless carriers. Although carriers and manufacturers still retain the right to put obstacles in place to prevent consumers from switching networks, circumnavigating those obstacles is perfectly legal, and thankfully, relatively simple!
    12-30-10 09:02 PM
  2. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    lot of big words in there haha but good piece!
    12-30-10 10:49 PM
  3. UnlockJunction's Avatar
    Haha, I guess so, but we get that question so often that I figured I would share - wrote that as a blog post this evening, figured some people here might find it useful.
    12-30-10 11:06 PM
  4. XxSORRAINxX's Avatar
    is there anyway i can unlock my blackberry for free??? please email me if so at insanebeaner@gmail.com
    12-31-10 04:02 AM
  5. BergerKing's Avatar
    is there anyway i can unlock my blackberry for free??? please email me if so at insanebeaner@gmail.com
    Monitor this thread. There are free unlock codes given away regularly.


    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    12-31-10 04:07 AM
  6. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    you can enter a contest in the unlocking forum
    01-01-11 10:12 PM
  7. Chrisy's Avatar
    Call your carrier for a free unlock code. VZW gave me mine.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    01-01-11 10:17 PM
  8. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    wow sticky! i'd take that as a compliment
    01-03-11 05:00 PM
  9. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    01-04-11 01:59 PM
  10. TheRemoteUnlockercom's Avatar
    Great post! Much needed...glad it got stickied!
    01-04-11 07:54 PM
  11. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    it's irritating to me how so many people think it's illegal when even the carrier's give out the unlock code if you call them.
    01-16-11 11:00 PM
  12. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    They are trained to say that all day
    01-19-11 10:16 AM
  13. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    some of them will give it to you! depends on who you talk to and what you say when you call them.
    01-19-11 03:05 PM
  14. elite.entity's Avatar
    Do they give out the unlock code even if you're still under contract?

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    cabirder likes this.
    01-29-11 09:57 PM
  15. freethisberrydotcom's Avatar
    It all depends on the carrier....
    01-30-11 11:02 AM
  16. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    Do they give out the unlock code even if you're still under contract?

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    As said by freethisberry, it all comes down to the provider, for example a Canadian carrier will never give you the unlock code for your Blackberry.
    01-31-11 08:42 PM
  17. mssca's Avatar
    02-13-11 11:53 AM
  18. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    This thread is about legality of unlocking guys! Cellunlock is correct there a couple stingy canadian carriers and depending on who you call and the customer service agent they will give you code! Also depending on what you tell them they will give you code, good one is your going overseas which a lot of ppl do!
    03-21-11 08:45 PM
  19. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    Canadian carriers will never give them out Bell started charging $50 for them.
    03-22-11 06:26 PM
  20. unlockthatphonecom's Avatar
    Just heard the other day that 70$ is the going rate for some! haha
    04-13-11 10:29 AM
  21. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    Yes it is, and they probably end up buying it from us
    04-20-11 01:43 PM
  22. Unlockingauthoritycom's Avatar
    it does depend on the carrier, and who you talk to. but if you can't get it for free from your carrier, unlock codes really aren't very expensive.
    05-22-11 07:27 PM
  23. CellUnlock.net's Avatar
    Most US carriers will give you the code for free if you have an account in good standing with them for more then 3 months. Canadian carriers are tougher.
    05-24-11 03:17 PM
  24. Unlockingauthoritycom's Avatar
    verizon will always give it to you for free if you have an account with them, but they don't have very many phones that you can actually unlock.
    05-29-11 03:47 PM
  25. bballpro's Avatar
    verizon will always give it to you for free if you have an account with them, but they don't have very many phones that you can actually unlock.
    I now hate Verizon! I was with them for two years on my BlackBerry storm and after that I switched to AT&T because I got poor reception in my area under Verizon (on a side note I want to point out that I get perfect signal with AT&T). But after a little over a year, the touch screen on my Samsung Impression (the phone I have with AT&T; it sucks don't ever get it!) stopped functioning properly. So, I called Verizon and they won't give me it unless I have 60 days of good credit with them and I am currently activated with them even though my 2 year contract already finished!
    06-04-11 11:38 PM
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