Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Businesses Communications News

Mobile Phones Locked By DMCA 255

Posted by Zonk
from the who-needs-choice dept.
wellington map writes "A mobile phone company is arguing that companies that unlock their handsets violate the DMCA. They argue that the software on the phone is a copyrighted work, and the unlocker is breaking DRM in a way that violates the statutory prohibition on circumvention. A similar claim by Lexmark, which tried to apply it to people who refilled printer cartridges, has recently been rejected by the courts." From the Wired article: "The financial motive behind this claim is obvious. Companies have been using the razor blade business model to guarantee a steady stream of revenue ever since, well, the razor blade. Cell phone companies sell you a phone at a discount, and then make up the difference by requiring you to sign a multi-year contract promising to pay monthly fees for mobile phone service or to fork over a hefty termination penalty if you break the deal. But many customers, particularly those who travel internationally, want more choice."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mobile Phones Locked By DMCA

Comments Filter:
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:28AM (#13684331)

    Story lifted directly from BoingBoing. Even the quote from Wired was lifted directly from the BoingBoing story.

    See the BoingBoing story here. [boingboing.net]

    As for the 'razor blade' argument cited in TFA, the reason it works for razor blades is because they're cheap...too cheap for people to 'mod' their razors to be able to accept other, cheaper razor blades. This model simply doesn't apply in the world of printer cartridges and cell phones...since it's worth the expense. Lexmark increased the expense by implementing the 'handshake' between the cartridge and the printer, but circumventing that proved to be worth the expense as well. When Lexmark attempted to invoke DMCA they got slapped down, and rightly so.

    The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine. The courts ultimately ruled against Lexmark in this matter, and I expect (and hope) that they will rull against the cellphone companies as well.
    • Check the direction (Score:4, Informative)

      by Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) <.spambox. .at. .theapt.org.> on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#13684457) Homepage Journal
      boingboing linked to the Wired article. So of course they would have the exact same quote.
      • by pokka (557695)
        That doesn't excuse the submitter from plagiarizing the non-quoted part of the boingboing article (and he was quoted almost verbatim - the first two sentences are identical). Regardless of how easy it might be to write copy, it's still someone's work and should at least have been attributed to its author.
    • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#13684459) Journal
      I hope they do so as well, but it probably won't be the end of it. The cell phone company simply needs to change the contract to say that if you unlock your phone then you have to pay xxx dollars to the cell phone company. Should be legal, and if they make it prominent they might not even piss off their customers, who knows. Personally, if the company gives me the choice, I would rather pay for the phone up front and not sign a contract. Contracts mean the companies can concentrate on new sales and not existing customer support or quality of service (most of us change cell companies because we are dissatisfied with our existing company, not because the new company is better). As long as we have contracts, we lose in service and quality.
      • Amen EASY!!! I am sooooo tired of being told, by my cell phone company, I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do for you, you're not "due for upgrade" at this time!! I'll by the phone I want. If I like your sevice, I'll stay with you. If I don't, you'll lose my business to someone else. If things go like they should, I can see cell phones becoming the now land lines of the future.
    • by Bogtha (906264) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:40AM (#13684462)

      The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine.

      Yes, but do you own your phone? A lot of people get their phone with their service contract rather than buying the phone itself.

      I agree that if you buy a phone it should be your own property and you should be able to modify it as you wish, but I don't think the same holds true if you merely have your phone as part of a contract deal.

      If you want the benefits of a contract phone - vastly reduced initial cost, free upgrades to newer phones, etc, then you should accept the downsides too, or actually buy a phone of your own.

      • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:45AM (#13684531) Journal
        Problem is, if you out and out buy your phone they still lock it. Which would be a good point to bring up in the suit because it would mean the lock doesn't have anything to do with the subsidy (it has everything to do with keeping you locked to the cell phone company).
        • If you buy a phone from the vendor like I did with one of my old handsets, it comes unlocked. Nokia sold me a phone for around £200 and it came fully unlocked and wonderful.
          • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:23AM (#13685003) Journal
            You live in the UK, I live in the US. Makes a difference.
            • by sznupi (719324) on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:32AM (#13685134) Homepage
              I guess it does...in Poland, I bought my phone for nothing while signing contract. For 2 years (time of contract), I'm supposed not to mess with mine (yes, mine) phone or I'll loose warranty...however there DOES exist another network, very cheap, which I can use. Now the best part: after 2 years, I can go to my initiall operator, the one who sold me phone, and they'll unlock it almost for nothing.
            • Best Buy (for example) will sell you a phone without a calling plan. My daughter wanted one - the tag said "$69 with calling plan, $200 without" (the numbers are not accurate, but in the ballpark). Presumably you then just slap in any activated SIM card and start dialling. She didn't get the phone...
              • Interesting but the question would be can you use the Best Buy phone with your cell phone provider of choice, and if so do you still have to sign a contract and pay a penalty for early cancellation (contracts and early cancellation is promoted by the cell phone company as devices for them to recover the cost of a subsidized phone -- something that would not apply in this situation)...
                • If you have a working SIM card (from your previous phone), theoretically you just slap it in and start dialling. I don't have $200 spare right now to try that theory, though... :)
                • I had the option (at another US "local" carrier) to buy or contract. If I bought the phone it was mine and my "contract" was for one month of service, renewable monthly. However, the phone (AFAIK) would not work with another carrier even if I opted for the no-contract option.
                  The US seems to have looked the other way on this type of lock-in for too long. Now that we care it will be very difficult to change the status quo.

                  -nB
            • I bought my Nokia 6820 in the United States. Tri band GSM phone. It wasn't locked. I could then just buy a SIM card and put it in.
        • Problem is, if you out and out buy your phone they still lock it.

          Actually, if you out and out buy your phone directly from the manufacturer, they don't lock it. When you buy it from the cell phone company, even if you pay more to not be locked into a contract, they are still giving you a discount over what you would pay the manufacturer directly.

          • I've gone directly to Motorola and asked them their policy on this. The response (including spelling or grammar mistake):

            Dear Mr. (<i>my name</i>),

            Thank you for your recent correspondence with Motorola.

            Regarding your question, we do not sale unlock units from our web page or from our customer care department.

            However, you are able to purchase this units from after markets web pages

            Thank you for allowing us to be of your service, if you need further assistance please do not hesitate to cont

            • You are incorrect on a number of points, firstly, you are correct on the subsidy lock, phones are not cheap, even the free phones providers give away fro free, will cost about $300+ if you buy them from the aftermarket arena, and usually, the ETF does not cover the full cost of the phone, nor does it cover the cost of the man hours put into creating your account, and the customer service man hours a user inevitably goes through.

              Now, phones are often provider exlusives of an existing model, some manufacturer
        • I bought my phone without the discount and without the contract, with a nice non-discounted $300 pricetag, so I'd have the freedom of buying minutes when I wanted / needed (as I didn't use my phone all that much). Later on in the year, I went to visit my girlfriend in the US, and had to buy an unlocking kit just to be able to use another provider. They wouldn't even let me roam because I didn't have a contract!

          If you ask me, they gave me no choice really, as I simply wasn't going to sign any sort of contr
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:46AM (#13684545) Homepage Journal
        I've bought phones from Sprint PCS, BellSouth/Cingular, AT&T, and T-Mobile, all on contacts, and I've NEVER seen anything that suggests that I do not own the phone. Not for any of those operators. Every single phone operator will tell you that they're SELLING YOU a phone. However, they'll generally refuse to sell you one at a discount if you don't also sign up to a contract plan.

        If Cingular (most likely culprit in this case, as T-Mobile will unlock phones for free as long as a customer has been in good standing for three months) doesn't feel subsidized phone buyers should be allowed to do what they want with their own hardware (note, Cingular's network does not constitute subsidized phone buyer's "own hardware", before anyone criticises me for suggesting that Cingular allow people to modify their phones to do crappy things all over Cingular's frequencies, that's not what I'm suggesting at all) then perhaps they shouldn't sell the phones, perhaps they should rent them out, and have their customers sign lease agreements.

        • as T-Mobile will unlock phones for free as long as a customer has been in good standing for three months They will? Which T-Mobile are you talking about? I don't think we're using the same one.
      • This is exactly my argument regarding TiVo's lifetime service. In my opinion if I buy a lifetime service agreement it should be for access to the service for the lifetime of the service itself. As part of that service, TiVo agrees to upload new service software that will guarantee bug fixes and new features within the limits of the machine as purchased or the service. TiVo says the lifetime service only applies to the machine you've purchased and no farther. I don't "subscribe" to a machine. I subscribe to
      • A lot of people get their phone with their service contract rather than buying the phone itself.

        I submit that, once the one (or maybe two) year contract expires, you *do* own your phone. Whenever my contract expires, AT&T (now Cingular) are keen to get me to "upgrade" my phone, with a contract extension. I can pick a $0 phone (i.e. just becoming obsolete) or pay maybe $50 for a super deluxe phone with knobs and bells and whistles. They don't ask for the old phone back because it's *really* obsolet

        • Actually - you own the phone from the moment you get it. The law of sales in monst states says that the sale is complete as soon as there is agreement on the thing and the price - even if the thing has not been delivered or the price paid. Ownership transfers on agreement. So you own the phone immediately - if you destroy it the cell company doesn't have an action against you for damages. The terms under which you buy the phone include a penalty for canceling the contract early - but this in no way effe
    • The point is, if I own a product, be it cellphone, printer, or razor, it is mine. The courts ultimately ruled against Lexmark in this matter

      But the court upheld Lexmark in the toner suit (EULA issue), where Lexmark provides a discount to people who bought the "cheaper" box on condition of returning it back only to Lexmark for recycling. Due consideration, in the court's opinion, was the cheaper price.

      Since the phones are subsidized by the service providers I can easily see a court siding with them, al

      • Since the phones are subsidized by the service providers

        The are subsidized by requiring you to pay for a fixed number of months of usage. Its part of the rebate contract.
        Modding the phone will not change this contract.

        Considering that, why do you have to be locked in by the phone just because you're locked in by the contract? Its not like they can't enforce the contract without the phone.

        This is not the same situation as Lexmark at all. In one, you're talking about buying something that was cheaper in li
    • by jcostantino (585892) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:52AM (#13684615) Homepage
      Cellular providers sell the subsidized phones with the expectation that they will recoup their losses during the term of the contract. Nothing wrong there. It's when they lock the phones AND slap you with a ~$200 fee for breaking the contract that it bothers me. The only phones, IMHO, that should be locked are PAYGO (pay as you go) and that's because they are somewhat discounted with no contract so they need to be on the network of whoever sold them.

      By the way, and I'm not saying this to be mean or anything because I do enjoy reading your opinions here but... do you live here? I almost always see your comments as FP (or first +0 or better comment) or damn near it.

    • It makes a change from stories being lifted straight from Fark.
    • >Story lifted directly from BoingBoing. Even the quote from Wired was lifted directly from the BoingBoing story.

      And they didnt list it either (the cell company). This reminds me of rumors on the school-yard. "oh, someone said your not cool, but I'm not going to tell you who and I'll just make up a name and call them Person A". It doesnt accomplish anything other then stiring up stuff (e.g. webhits).

      If someone filed a C-n-D, to me at least, whats the point of writing a story about it if your not going to
    • Put it all on the table. By Cellphone Company, they mean Cingular/ATT. I just switched to T-Mobile for this very reason. T-mobile provided me an unlock code so I could get a local number while in Brazil for 10 days.

      It just so happens Cingular/ATT have the lowest raitings for service and customer satisfaction in the industry. Who is surprised they want to lock customers into their network?

      (I'm not affiliated with any of the companies above, I work for a vendor who sells equipment to all of them so their netw
  • Sounds good to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndersOSU (873247) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:29AM (#13684344)
    What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness. If you want to have freedom to go to any network you want you have to pay a premium. I don't necessarily see a problem with the buisness model...

    Is this one of those things where it must be bad because it contains the worst of the slashdot four letter words (DMCA)?
    • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:38AM (#13684437)
      Um...here in the States, such a phone is more like the mythical Unicorn. We don't have the luxury of taking our phones with us when we switch providers. heck we've only had number portability for a couple years now!

      And no one is suggesting that if I 'unlock' my phone to use Provider B at some point, that I stop paying Provider A as my contract requires.

      If I have finished my service contract, why shouldn't I be able to use the phone on a different network if I so desire? Do the companies offer 'unlocking' services at the end of contract? (by which time they have been 'paid' for the 'cheap' phone)

      So it's just another tactic to prevent free market forces by using the DMCA, yes it's a Bad Thing(TM). Hopefully with exposure and some intelligent court rulings this too shall pass.


      • Personally, I have specifically asked a cell phone company (I'm not naming names) if I could use an old phone that I had (bought from them about two years earlier) with a new service plan without a contract. I had cancelled my previous plan months earlier with them because of certain circumstances. Even though they still sold the exact same phone with some of their plans, I was told that I had to buy a new phone and sign up under a contract. They would not let me use my existing phone. It was pretty obv
      • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:4, Informative)

        by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:36AM (#13685194) Homepage
        Um...here in the States, such a phone is more like the mythical Unicorn. We don't have the luxury of taking our phones with us when we switch providers. heck we've only had number portability for a couple years now!

        I am in the States and I wouldn't consider a non-GSM phone. If you don't choose to use a better GSM provider using GSM phones, that's your own problem. I've been with Voicestream and now T-Mobile for years. I've taken my phone all over the world and used it on carriers in other countries with prepaid SIM cards when I've been away on longer trips. It's not locked and works on any GSM network in the world and can be serviced by any GSM provider's service.

        -N

    • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nblender (741424)
      Well, at least one problem I've encountered is with my vendor-neutral and non-discount SonyEricsson K750i. Now that the firmware is 'old', I want to upgrade it. The only way I can see to do that is via the official SE site with their software. It won't let me upgrade the firmware because it doesn't recognize the carrier that my phone is currently using. ie: it has no custom firmware matching my carrier.

      So, unless I do a bunch of secret-squirrel digging/haxoring, I have a dead-end product.


    • The problem is that you might purchase a locked phone initially, and there are companies out there which, for a small fee, will forcibly unlock your phone for you when you decide to switch carriers. (Or if you have the technical knowledge and means, you can do it yourself). They're arguing that unlocking a phone which was purchased as a locked phone is a violation of the DMCA.
    • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pla (258480) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:40AM (#13684461) Journal
      Is this one of those things where it must be bad because it contains the worst of the slashdot four letter words (DMCA)?

      Actually, yes. I have yet to see a "good" occurrence of that four-letter word (acronym). At best, ironic or just-desserts, but never actually "good".



      What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness.

      You miss the point - Yes, the phone comes cheap as part of signing a 2-year contract (usually), but after that?

      This doesn't involve people trying to get out of their contracts. Just people trying to keep using their phone once they have satisfied whatever contractual obligations exist that might justify calling it "not theirs".

      When every object we posess contains some amount of copyrighted material, will companies successfully argue that we don't actually "own" anything? "Sorry, that pointy stick contains DNA for which Monsanto owns the copyright. Using it to defend yourself against a non-Monsanto-approved bear violates the DMCA".
      • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Red Flayer (890720)
        "When every object we posess contains some amount of copyrighted material, will companies successfully argue that we don't actually "own" anything? "

        The solution I see would be to mandate that any copyrighted part of a non-copyrighted object be made removable. If I don't use the copyrighted part, then no problem, correct?

        • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:3, Informative)

          by pla (258480)
          If I don't use the copyrighted part, then no problem, correct?

          That depends on the primary use of the object, and the degree to which the copyrighted part exists as central to the use of the object.

          With a stick, the DNA might count as absolutely unavoidably bound to the object, but the specifics have very little bearing on the stick's functionality.

          With a CD, the music on it, although potentially removeable (in the case of a CD-RW, anyway), counts as the entire reason you would buy the CD in the first
          • "Personally, I would put cell phones in the CD category - Legitimate posession of the physical device should (but all to often doesn't) count as an implied, irrevokeably license to use the copyrighted content contained therein, including the right to change that content at will. If a company doesn't want customers to use feature-X of their product, they need to leave feature-X out rather than just disabling it in software."

            What if you sign an EULA as part of your purchase agreement that states you are not
      • "Yes, the phone comes cheap as part of signing a 2-year contract (usually), but after that?..."
        After that, you throw away the phone because you dont want it anyway due to the fact that the phone is ridiculously outdated.

        The point may be missed on this slightly, however, first of all, nothing is free and there is a price for everything. I agree, of you choose to agree to the contract, then by all means, sign it otherwise, just buy a phone that is not unlocked.

        You see, the only way that the compani
    • The biggest problem with your argument is that all of the major US carriers still lock the phone even if one pays full price for it.

      I might buy your argument if the phone was only locked during the period of time that the buyer is obligated to the carrier by the carrier's purchase subsidy (such as by a two year contract). There is a grey area that may even moot the subsidised lock-in period, and that is the existance of a contract termination charge.
    • What's the problem? If you want to pay less for a locked in phone thats your buisness. If you want to have freedom to go to any network you want you have to pay a premium. I don't necessarily see a problem with the buisness model...

      The problem is that, although these companies are welcome to adopt a business model where you pay a premium to use the handset after your contract expires, there's no valid reason for that business model to be protected by law. Handset unlocking is not a great injustice, it's

    • by JesseL (107722)
      There are two problems with this.

      The first is that they are trying to leverage a law intended to protect copyright for the purpose of supporting their business model which has nothing to do with copyright.

      The second is that they are trying to prevent people from using the hardware that they have paid for in the way they see fit. I think it's fine if the terms of your contract with them say that you must use their service with the cell phone that they sold you for the period of the contract. The problems co
  • always pay upfront (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:31AM (#13684368) Homepage
    never get discounted phones, you get stuck in a contract, that costs more to break than the phone ,

    always buy unlocked phones and use them with whichever n/w you like.

    Can I get a +1 DUH !

    • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by forrestt (267374)
      Why are the phone companies concerned w/ the phone being locked or not. If I bought a one cent phone, and had to sign up for a two year contract to get it, then I am stuck in a two year contract. If I mod the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I jump up and down on the phone, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I play some skeet shooting w/ the phone as the pigeon, I am still stuck in a two year contract. If I sign up for service with another provider in another country w/ the s
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chyeld (713439)
        Because it's not just unlocking your phone to use other networks, it's unlocking features such as custom ring tones, unrestricted bluetooth, and etc., which the networks normally charge hefty fee for limited use of.

        I hope that this gets slapped silly in court. If the networks want to control my phone they need to either rent it to me, actually sell me a phone which isn't capable of doing the things they don't want me to be capable of, or actually write into the contract that I won't do certain things while
      • Exactly!! You're stuck with the contract, or you pay them to get out of it early. How do they lose??

        They lose if, at the end of the contract, you take your business, and your phone, elsewhere. Never mind that you piad back more than the phone cost during the contract...

    • never get discounted phones, you get stuck in a contract, that costs more to break than the phone , always buy unlocked phones and use them with whichever n/w you like.

      My phone's about 300 euros retail. I got it for free on a 1-year contract... The savings pretty much pay for a year's worth of subscription and calls, and my calls are cheaper than on a prepaid plan.

      Better yet: recently I tried cleaning my phone in the washing machine by leaving it in my trouser pocket. That didn't work out too well.

  • I'm screwed then (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:34AM (#13684402) Homepage
    A mobile phone company is arguing that companies that unlock their handsets violate the DMCA

    So I gues that makes thos of us who hack [nuclearelephant.com] mobile [nuclearelephant.com] phones [nuclearelephant.com] terrorists or something?

    I would think that if you follow this logic, Verizon crippling their handsets so that customers can't access their own copyrighted works (pictures they've taken and messages they've received) without paying $0.25 is also a terrorist. I can live with that.
  • by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#13684446) Homepage
    ... in many countries already. And soon (I hope) it may be in the US. We're working with a few congressmen who asked us to help with a bill [nuclearelephant.com] that's been drawn up.
  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#13684458)
    The difference between cracking software and unlocking a cell phone is that the software inside the phone has an option for unlocking. The key is having the code and entering it. If the cell companies don't like it then they should require the manufacturers to remove that functionality from their products. The fact of the matter is that no company will want to do that since the same phone can be used on many networks with the same QA'd software. Now when I sign that contract with the cell company, they say that I will keep my contract for X amount of months. If I break it, then I pay for termination fee. Whether I choose to unlock the phone prior to or after that point is not the right of the company to dictate. I didn't license the phone from them nor did I lease it. I bought a physical appliance that is in my possession. Where I go from there after fulfilling the termination free requirements of my contract is my business. If the cell companies don't like it, then they need to stop subsidizing phones at low prices, lease phones that the consumer never truely owns, or come up with a pricing model and service quality level that will keep customers. Using the law to prevent me from doing something with a piece of equipment that I own is not their right once they have sold it to me.

    -----

    Bored? Enjoy the Laughs [audiworld.com]. (best forum on the 'net)
  • Which mobile phone company did this? I'ma put on my walking shoes, and spend my money with a different company.

    (Article doesn't say which company, but it can only be Cingular or T-Mobile. (Large, and unlocking implies GSM))
    • Actually, unlocking can mean CDMA.

      Sprint and Verizon's phones are locked, IIRC.

      Sprint will not accept a pre-unlocked phone - it must have been locked to Sprint when it was new, AFAICT.

      Verizon and Alltel will accept phones from any CDMA network, as long as they are unlocked, and (IIRC) Alltel will unlock a Verizon phone for you.
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:57AM (#13684672) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, but it's not likely to be a IS95 operator. For the most part, the phones sold by IS95 operators in the US can only be used on US networks because few accept SIM cards, and most of the operators outside of the US that use "IS95" use a slightly better variant that does use them, as I understand it.

        Most US operators know that they'd be no better or worse off if there was a culture of unlocking that still limited US phones to US customers. What they'd lose by someone switching to Verizon from Sprint after two years without forcing Verizon to pay out a phone subsidy, they'd gain in having an ex-Verizon customer do the same thing. Where it becomes problematic is where people are able to sign up for contracts (or just prepaid service, which is also subsidized, only to a lesser degree), and then skip out of the country, reselling the phone in a market where economic conditions are substantially different. If the subsidies are leaving the country, and are essentially unrecoverable, then you lose.

        It's not impossible of course. This could be as simple as a company being bloody-minded. But right now I think it's substantially more likely that it's Cingular, or maybe - at a stretch - T-Mobile. Cingular doesn't usually unlock phones (and contrary to some reports, while they shipped some world phones unlocked, most of their phones including their world phones certainly are locked, I've read a number of "sob-stories" from people who bought Cingular RAZRs and planned to use them outside the country using prepaid GSM SIMs and found they couldn't), T-Mobile has a policy that it will after someone's been a customer in good standing for three months.

    • if you ask them.
  • by scronline (829910) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:43AM (#13684504) Homepage
    Mobile phone companies means manufacturers. Why then, was mobile phone service providers talked about in the article? They actually lose money on the phones or make such a small amount they would prefer to just sign you up for the contract. It's the phone manufacturer that wants to be able to sell you the phone for a different service provider. I just felt I needed to say that. I really dislike disinformation...which is why I don't watch the news.
    • The manufacturer really doesn't care if the phone is locked or not. They just want to move phones to the service providers (the majority of phones are sold directly from manufacturer to service provider). Manufacturers don't lock phones broadly, they lock it to each individual service provider. Therefore, it's the provider who asks the manufacturer for the lock to be implemented. That's why service providers were talked about in the article.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:44AM (#13684520) Homepage
    Back when there was but one Bell telephone, there arose an issue with "Other than Bell" equipment on a Bell phone line. If I understand how the story goes, it went to the supreme court and they said "people have the right to use any phone they like and should not be locked into buying from a monopolistic vendor."

    These locked phones are essentially the same thing where they are using this practice as a means to keep people from migrating from one service to another. It also serves to prevent any resale value for any equipment that someone may own which is also bad for the consumer.

    This situation, if tested is court, will be an easy win for the consumer. I have no doubt on that.
    • ...and while we're on the subject, I have a Japanese (vodafone) Nokia 6630 phone that I'd really love to unlock. So far, one place I took it to said they couldn't and another shop I have yet to visit says that they can. Online searches so far say it can't be done...yet. Anyone have any info into this?
      • ...and while we're on the subject, I have a Japanese (vodafone) Nokia 6630 phone that I'd really love to unlock. So far, one place I took it to said they couldn't and another shop I have yet to visit says that they can. Online searches so far say it can't be done...yet. Anyone have any info into this?

        Dunno what search terms you used, but online searches for "unlock 6630" tell me it can be unlocked.

    • I'm glad you're not my lawyer.

      I've heard the same sort of story mentioned about the Bell of yesteryear but the situation today is entirely different. Customers aren't buying service from a government-sanctioned monopoly - they have several choices of major carriers and many more minor carriers to choose from. With each carrier they have several choices of phones, contracts (or not), options, etc. Even reactivating 4 year old phones is possible - worst case scenario, you have to activate with the original
      • It costs even MORE to fight the stuff they hate. The fact that people hate paying more than $3(US)/Gallon of gasoline seems to nullify your argument as access to alternative fuels and other such are simply beyond the reach of the average person. We don't stop buying gasoline because our lives literally depend on our ability to get from here to there. The same argument can be made for phones as we are expected to be able to communicate to be effective in our daily lives. An increasing number of people ha
  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:45AM (#13684536)
    I use a Motorola phone I got through Cingular. They sell the Motorola "World Phones" all unlocked.

    Sure, the phone company subsidizes your phone hardware by locking you into a certain term length of contract... So, if you unlock your phone and use it with another provider, YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT. Therefore, what's the point of worrying about locking the customer out? A contract's a contract.

    The REAL reason a lot of these cell companies worry about "unlocking" is the data transfer. I never paid for a single ringtone... I connect my data cable to my phone (or use my handheld with Bluetooth) and drop MP3s of my choice on the phone. I also "hacked" it (using a combination of the Programmer Service Tools and something called SIStorGSM) to remove the crap stock ringtones and images that I never used, thus freeing up more space for my own media. Great! Now, I'm a criminal?

    This DRM stuff really pisses me off... I really do try to be a law-abiding person. I pay for my software, my movies, DVDs of TV series I love, even music CDs; all of which I COULD have pirated off the 'net... but the more DRM the Intellectual Property crowd puts in, the more they say to me "You're ALL guilty of being pirates" and the more I say "Well, if you're going to consider me guilty anyway, why do I care so much for trying to 'do the right thing'"
    • YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT

      I can second that. I obtained a phone from an outside source, and while the phone was unlocked and could be connected to any carrier, I was still bound by contract to remain with my carrier for a year, with something like a $250 penalty, even though they didn't subsidize my phone whatsoever.

    • Sure, the phone company subsidizes your phone hardware by locking you into a certain term length of contract... So, if you unlock your phone and use it with another provider, YOU'RE STILL STUCK WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT. Therefore, what's the point of worrying about locking the customer out? A contract's a contract.

      1) Sign up for cell phone service with the provider you want to stick with.
      2) For your free (or super-discounted) phone, get the most expensive one they have.
      3) Unlock that phone.
      4) Se
    • > Therefore, what's the point of worrying about locking the customer out?

      They want you to spend as much as possible? If you use their phone with another carrier, they get the monthly fee but nothing extra.
  • D.M.C.A. (Score:4, Funny)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:46AM (#13684550) Homepage Journal
    I'm getting so frustrated over all these DMCA issues that I have to get up and do something physical. So, now I sing the Y.M.C.A. song and dance the dance, but using the DMCA acronym and ending it with a big pelvis thrust.

    After I started doing that, I stopped posting silly comments on slashdot... oh wait..
  • Won't hold up. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013)
    Won't hold up, same as the Lexmark case.

    Further.. if it does hold up, this is just further evidence that the DMCA is very badly written.

    Even if you are a very strong proponent of stricter copyrights, this is outside the intended scope of the DMCA.

    The locking mechanism is there to prevent using competing SIM cards on the phone, not to protect access to a work under copyright.
  • Easy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisbtoo (41029) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:49AM (#13684580) Homepage Journal
    [U]nlock[ing ...] handsets violate the DMCA. [...] Those who travel internationally, want more choice.

    So unlock them in a country that doesn't have the DMCA. No problem.
  • how hard it is to load a Java game into a cellphone.

    Even if you buy a game downloaded directly into the phone, you only have limited memory, so if you want to archive your game to your computer in order to make room for other games, it's also a pain in the ass to do.

    My previous phone came with a few games installed, but my new phone came with this one game, and after a few minutes of playing, the game stopped and said "thanks for playing the demo, press here to buy and download the full version".

    I flushed t
  • Strange. (Score:4, Informative)

    by thelonestranger (915343) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:51AM (#13684597)
    I've had two phones from Vodaphone and two from T-mobile, my girlfriend has had one from Vodaphone & 2 from O2. None of these phones was ever locked and we were free to put a SIM from another network into these phones at anytime. The only time I've seen locked phones on contracts is with Orange and Virgin. A good rule of thumb is that if the handset your buying/getting on contract has a network providers logo printed on it the its more than likely locked. This seems to be the case with all Pay As You Go phones and Orange contract phones.
    • My T-mobie phone is locked to my sim. I was traveling in the UK and ironically I could see the T-mobile service network but I couldn't access it.
  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:59AM (#13684687)
    There's one important difference. The razor blade model works because there is absolutely nothing useful one can do with a razor blade HANDLE without the blades.

    What these companies are doing is selling a VERY useful item at an incredible loss, and attempting to legislate the consumers' USE of the product. In a very real sense they are attempting to use social controls to *force* the public into doing business their way.

    This is, to my mind, outright evil for fairly obvious reasons. But from a strict business sense, it's idiocy. Look at Microsoft and the X-box. They sell a repackaged PC with crackable hardware at (we think) a loss... so they use laws and threats and intimidation to stop people from using their purchased X-Box as they see fit.

    That's not the razor blade model. I can't convert my razor blade handle into a hammer or screwdriver or something. But I CAN convert a mobile phone or an X-Box into something entirely useful that negates their business model. And all they can use are laws to force me to play the game their way. Laws that undermine the very definition of legal possession that is a requirement for a capitalist system to function.

    For if we don't have the right to use products we purchase as we please, what worth are they?

    • The solution is simple: sell the phone for the realistic price. To allow everyone to own one, offer a postponed payment scheme (essentially a loan). Add a network subscription separately.
      Now everyone can switch to a different provider at will. Of course they are still obliged to payoff their loan.
  • by mark2003 (632879) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:59AM (#13684692)
    Phone handsets (at least the latest on the market) cost hundreds of dollars. When you sign up for a contract or buy a pre-pay handset you generally get them for a fraction of that price as the network makes the money back on the calls.

    If you allow customers to unlock their handsets then the neworks will put handset prices up sigificantly as they have to try to make a profit.

    So complain all you like about your rights - either you get stuck with one network for a period of time or you pay a lot more for handsets up front.
    • No. As has been stated earlier, whether or not you unlock your phone has no effect on still being bound by the terms of your contract. If you unlock your phone for the purposes of changing carriers before your current contract is up then you still have to pay the early termination fee where the carrier would recoup their subsidy (and then some, I'm guessing).

  • by kinglink (195330) on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:08AM (#13684786)
    have any of you ever tried to buy a phone from motorola directly? You can't. They don't sell them like that. Personally I'd rather buy phones from the makers, instead of the insanely marked up phones they sell the contracts with.

    Phone's cost, 50-100 dollars.
    Mark up to make profit 10-20 dollars.
    Mark Up by companies to make contracts appealing, 50-100 dollars.

    It's a bullshit industry because every cellular company is out there to get you into contracts by offering new phones instead of keeping a good old phone. That's one of the reasons T-mobile appeals to me and others, because they offer short 1 year contracts. Hopefully that one company won't change.
    • As I pointed out - and I know - new (latest tech) phones do not cost 50-100 dollars.

      3G handsets at the moment are running at around 300-400USD, you then have to pay commision to the sales staff in the outlets (~50-100USD). Networks make a significant loss on the handsets which is why the more expensive your contract the cheaper the phone - that is how the network makes money.

      Out of your call fees the network has to pay for infrastructure e.g. base stations, switches, billing systems, interconnect charges,
  • The article is a little vague... if, say, Cingular is the company trying to put the DMCA on the unlocker, they don't have a leg to stand on. The carrier asks the manufacturer to subsidy-lock the phones to their SIM cards and that's all the say they have in locking. The manufacturer is the one who would prosecute because in certain circumstances, unlocking software comes from questionable sources.

    I went around and around to get a phone repaired through Motorola. They sent me an ATTWS branded phone that wou

  • T-Mobile (Score:5, Informative)

    by tivoKlr (659818) on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:14AM (#13684849) Journal
    Interesting, the nameless operator is most likely NOT T-Mobile, as I have been a customer with them for several years, and they will unlock your phone FOR you for FREE, just by emailing them and asking them to do so.

    There are some limitations, like you have to have been a customer for 90 days, in good standing, etc. but if you email them and ask them to send you the unlock code, they will do so in a couple of days.

    They have unlocked several Nokias for me in the past.

    Just my experience.
  • How do cellular contracts compare with land-lines?

    If you use a land-line phone, at least over here, you can only choose between having service from one company, or no service (for local calls and basics).

    (At least up to recently, before VoIP started being available)

    Since I switched to cellular-only and got rid of my landline, I've had excellent contracts which cost me on average equal or less per month than my old landline. And in general, each cellphone lasted the length of my contract before starting to d
  • by Stigu (919228)
    I'm Belgian, living in Finland andI go from one country to the other at least once a year. I live roughly 11 months a year in Finland, and buy a prepayed SIM card (fixed value at purchase, but rechargable) and use that during the time I'm in Belgium. This entire locking phones buisness seems to be a rther typical Anglo-saxon problem. I have never purchased a phone that was locked.. EVER! All I need o do, when I go ANYWHERE in the world, is take out my Nokia, open it up and put in a prepayed card I buy in
  • by huge colin (528073) on Friday September 30, 2005 @12:09PM (#13685626) Journal
    In Finland, it is illegal to sell a locked phone. Once again -- manufacturers in Finland cannot legally sell a phone that is locked to one carrier.

    Hmm.
  • Wow, they're really digging deep on this one. It also raises a really interesting question. I bought my own international unlocked phone. They can't try a DMCA claim on me unless they want to argue that they're transmitting copy protected software to my phone. And if an unlocked phone works without the "secret handshake" then they're going to have a hard time making a case.

    The courts have already established that trying to use the DMCA as a protection racket isn't going to work. At least it won't wor

"Of course power tools and alcohol don't mix. Everyone knows power tools aren't soluble in alcohol..." -- Crazy Nigel

Working...