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Cellphones Your Rights Online Technology

We Should Be Allowed To Unlock Everything We Own 317

An anonymous reader writes "When cell phone unlocking became illegal last month, it set off a firestorm of debate over what rights people should have for phones they have legally purchased. But this is really just one facet of a much larger problem with property rights in general. 'Silicon permeates and powers almost everything we own. This is a property rights issue, and current copyright law gets it backwards, turning regular people — like students, researchers, and small business owners — into criminals. Fortune 500 telecom manufacturer Avaya, for example, is known for suing service companies, accusing them of violating copyright for simply using a password to log in to their phone systems. That's right: typing in a password is considered "reproducing copyrighted material." Manufacturers have systematically used copyright in this manner over the past 20 years to limit our access to information. Technology has moved too fast for copyright laws to keep pace, so corporations have been exploiting the lag to create information monopolies at our expense and for their profit. After years of extensions and so-called improvements, copyright has turned Mickey Mouse into a monster who can never die.' We need to win the fight for unlocking phones, and then keep pushing until we actually own the objects we own again."
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We Should Be Allowed To Unlock Everything We Own

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  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:51PM (#43204295) Homepage
    Sometimes reading the documentation with a "product purchase" can enlight you. The fact that you pay for something doesn't mean it's truly yours. Sometimes it means you are allowed to use it under some restrictions. It's called EULA []. If you own an XBOX, an iPhone or a Wii, you'd already know about it!
  • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:53PM (#43204329)

    Politics, make it a policy issue. Get voters to tell politicians that it matters to them. Not as impossible as it seems, take for example the proliferation of Pirate Parties across Europe and the efforts of groups like the FFII, which have been highly effective in stopping software patents and other silliness in the EU to date. I don't think a dedicated technology party is going to be of much use in the US mind you, try an effective lobbying group instead. Lobbying works because lobbyists confine the knowledge of politicians to what they want them to know. Presenting a different view is often all it takes to shake things up a bit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:03PM (#43204463)

    You are actually not free to do with your phone as you like after the contract runs out in th US, it is still a violation to unlock your phone yourself. You need the carrier to do it for you.

  • by ggraham412 ( 1492023 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:15PM (#43204633)
    Any EULA must be enforceable. Just because it is written down doesn't make it so. For example, the EULA can't say that the buyer must provide a webcam feed from their bedroom, or is required to deliver up their firstborn son on demand.

    And that's what this is all about. What is valid and enforceable in a EULA and what is not. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back to a common law conception of ownership, and damn all the restrictive EULAs. And if Apple or Microsoft or anyone else with restrictive EULAs wants to bow out of the marketplace because they can't fathom how to make a phone or a videogame console without restrictive EULAs, I say let them take their toys and go home. Their market shares will be taken up in a microsecond by plenty of companies willing to make a buck actually **selling** such things.
  • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:25PM (#43204751)

    One of those members now includes Comcast. Comcast, the company that went, cash in hand, and tried to buy Disney outright a few years ago. all of it. the studio, the subsidieries, the parks. All of it. Cash. In. Hand.

    Disney said no.
    So they bought NBC instead.
    Disney meanwhile bought Marvel outright. And that oncluded their movies too.

    So ya, sure, they can be bought, these RIAA and MPAA members....But I'm not so sure google has the money to do so.

    And if they did have that much, it's like tying an anchor around your neck, in the sense they then become beholden to the means and methods those members have been using to make that much money.

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:31PM (#43204845)
    Oh yes, it is. The software is not a service, it is a product. As such you actually did buy it with the hardware and it is yours, at least in any country that does not follow the practice of legislating by EULA, like US.
  • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:44PM (#43205017) Journal

    That was shorthand for "Google could buy the companies that comprise the RIAA". e.g. the RIAA "big three" are Sony Music Group, UMG, and Warner. I could only find market capitlization for Warner (1.3bn []), but the entirety of Sony (not just the music group) is valued at 16bn []. Google has $50bn cash on hand.

  • Re:Obviously (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hunter Shoptaw ( 2655515 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:57PM (#43205175)
    Exactly, digitizing your library, either audio or video is, in fact, considered illegal by both groups. The fact that you haven't been sued for it doesn't mean it's not illegal or that they couldn't drop the hammer, it just means that they haven't. The RIAA copyright FAQs make it fairly clear that they have the power to frown upon anything that you don't have exclusive control over. Ownership and possession are not the same thing.

    On that note, I feel it should be said that I do not agree with the RIAA, MPAA or any other organization that helps to continue the abusive actions imposed on legal possessors of media, in the forms of DRM or any thing else.

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:21PM (#43206331) Homepage Journal

    "Even if Google starts its own record label, that doesn't automatically give Google the right to distribute recordings of copyrighted musical compositions."

    Uhhh, they have every right if said copyrighted recordings are MADE BY THEM.

  • Re:AMEN! (Score:5, Informative)

    by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:38PM (#43206481)

    I agree with your position on allowing unlocking. But your arguments are so wrong in so many ways that you'd really do better to shut up. "Our side" does not need such ignorant easily disproven drivel clouding the issue.

    You OWN your home, even though its mortgaged. You are not leasing it. You are not renting it. It is yours to do with ANYTHING you please. The bank has a lien on your home if your are mortgaged. They do not own it, nor can they tell you in any way what to do with it. You can sell it for any price you wish or burn it down...

    So, you've never actually read a mortgage and are completely unfamiliar with the laws pertaining to them...

    Likewise, when I purchase a phone + contract, I own the phone immediately. The phone company counts it as an immediate sell on their books and all other accounting...

    No, they do not--they recognize the revenue on the subsidized part of the phone as they receive it.

    ...which is why you pay taxes for it immediately rather than over time.

    No, you do not. You pay taxes on the part you pay, not the part that is deferred.

    If it was a lease, you would be required to buy it at the end of your contract ...

    No, you would not--in fact you've got this one exactly backwards. A lease means you return the item (in good condition) without further obligation at the end of the contract.

    ...that is a LEGAL requirement for leases, they can't automatically be 'given' at the end.

    It is a legal requirement in order to be able to deduct certain leases as business expenses that there be no pre-negotiated sales price at the end of the contract, that you pay fair market value at that time, that you receive no special consideration as the former lessee. Now you are right that if you get the item for free at the end, it's not a lease--because that's the very definition of a lease, that you don't take ownership. But getting this point only partly wrong still leaves your argument resoundlngly muddled.

    They have early termination charges attached as an agreed on termination cost.

    Yes, and that should be enough.

    Not allowing your phone to not work on another provider ISN'T IN THE CONTRACT AT ALL, so its not something you agreed on ever.

    Of course it is in the contract--the questions are: 1) whether or not such a term should be enforceable at all, and 2) if it should be enforceable, should it be a criminal act to unlock, or a civil issue between you and the carrier in the event you do not pay the early termination fee.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:39PM (#43206487) Homepage Journal
    There are two separate copyrighted works involved: a "musical work", or the composition itself, and a "sound recording", or a performance of that composition fixed in a medium. Record labels are owners of copyright in sound recordings; music publishers are owners of copyright in musical works. I think I understand much of copyright law, but I'll admit that I'm unaware of the specific contract grants that are commonplace between music publishers and record labels.
  • Re:AMEN! (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:39PM (#43206499)

    Therefore you don't really own it, but rent it from the state.

    Not really true. Just because the government can take something of mine if I don't pay a fee, that doesn't mean that I don't really own it. Any of my posessions can be confiscated by the government if it's used to commit a crime.

    If you don't pay your license fee, you are no longer allowed to drive it.

    Also not true. If you don't pay the fee, you are not allowed to drive it on public roads. I can buy a car and drive it on my private property without paying any fees, without needing a driver's license, and even without paying some taxes on fuel.

  • Re:AMEN! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:50PM (#43206657)

    You OWN your home, even though its mortgaged. You are not leasing it. You are not renting it. It is yours to do with ANYTHING you please.

    Actually, that's completely incorrect. If you have a mortgage, go read what you signed and initialized (about 25 times in various places). A contract is a contract. They can put what they want in it if it's legal, and if you sign it you have to follow it.

    Here's one specific statute (Maine... it was first on Google search :) - []

    Provided nevertheless, except as otherwise specifically stated in the mortgage, that if the mortgagor, his heirs, executors or administrators pay to the mortgagee, his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns the principal and interest secured by the mortgage, and shall perform any obligation secured at the time provided in the note, mortgage or other instrument or any extension thereof, and shall perform the condition of any prior mortgage, and until such payment and performance shall pay when due and payable all taxes, charges and assessments to whomsoever and whenever laid or assessed, whether on the mortgaged premises or on any interest therein or on the debt or obligation secured thereby; and shall keep the buildings on said premises insured against fire in a sum not less than the amount secured by the mortgage or as otherwise provided therein for insurance for the benefit of the mortgagee and his executors, administrators and assigns, in such form and at such insurance offices as they shall approve, and, at least 2 days before the expiration of any policy on said premises, shall deliver to him or them a new and sufficient policy to take the place of the one so expiring, and shall not commit nor suffer any strip or waste of the granted premises, nor commit any breach of any covenant contained in the mortgage or in any prior mortgage, then the mortgage deed, as also the mortgage note or notes shall be void, otherwise shall remain in full force.

  • Re:AMEN! (Score:5, Informative)

    by thomasw_lrd ( 1203850 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @04:05PM (#43206817)

    This is only because we the citizens of the United States have allowed it to become so. Write and call your reps in Congress. Tell them how you feel. Get all your friends and family to do it. Get them to get all their friends and family's to do it. I can almost guarantee that if over 100 million emails are sent tomorrow to Congress saying we want to own our devices fully. A bill will be introduced and most likely will be passed within a week.

    The public of the United States is the largest lobbyist group in the United States. See my latest blog post in my sig.

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