Implications of expired DMCA exemption for iPhone unlocking
Digital Millennium Copyright Act has been created to protect intellectual property rights but since its inception it has grown to regulate everything from home YouTube videos to iPhone unlocking. There was a provision in the Law that exempted cell phone unlocking. This so-called exemption expired January, 26 this year which “technically” made it illegal to unlock your iPhone and use it on another network without the carrier’s approval.
Basically, the law targets those people who unlock and resell subsidized iPhones for profit. If you are not one of them, you have nothing to worry about. In other words, you won’t find yourself in hot water if you get your iPhone unlocked through an official service like ours. Besides, we have always used official carrier channels to grant unlocks to our users. So, what is this law all about?
The main purpose of the law is to prohibit “circumventing” digital locks that “control access” to creative works like movies, music, books, games, and software. But no creative work is involved here: wireless carriers aren’t worried about “piracy” of the software on their phones, they are worried about second hand markets that turn over used devices purchased at carrier discounts. This is the reason why many carriers came up with 90 day waiting periods and various “good standing” provisions before granting an unlock. This was the reason why the Copyright Office granted an exemption to iPhone unlocking in the first place – it simply does not fall under DMCA jurisdictions.
There is a clear trend, however, to more lenient unlocking policies, at least from some carriers. It is definitely less of a hassle to get your iPhone 5 unlocked for international use compared to previous models. And some carriers facilitate easy unlocks for domestic use as well.