If you have brought a cell phone from a carrier, like Sprint, Verizon or AT&T, I will work only on that carrier’s cellular and data network unless you “unlock” it.
In case you haven’t heard, starting today, from now it will be illegal to “jail breaking your cell without carrier consent according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a January 26, 2013 unlocking your cell phone without permission to your carrier’s permission is crime; your carrier has every right to turn you in.
It will sound complicated to you if you haven’t do it earlier and something you wouldn’t bother with then this news will not bother you, but if you have ever done this before or want to do it in future, then you should know that from now it will be illegal to jailbreak your subsidized phone or tablet if you have via through a U.S. carrier.
Why now? Starting today, the Library of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office are no longer allowing phone unlocking as an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
In short, it is illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier unless you have permission of your carrier to do so. If you’re wondering what this has to do with copyright, it has nothing to do with copyright.
A digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Rebecca Jeschke told InfinityLoopers,
“It wasn’t a good ruling, You should be able to unlock your phone. This law was meant to combat copyright infringement, not to prevent people to do what they want to do with the device they bought.”
It is pretty obvious that carriers will prefer new rule it ties your cell to their network U.S. cellular carrier’s cell phones at a discounted rate or subsidized with a contract. They give you the phone for a cheaper price than it actually is worth and in return you pay the network for service on a monthly basis
If your phone has already been unlocked before this Saturday, you are grandfathered in and won’t face any legal issues. But now let me tell you what could happen if you unlocked your phone now that it’s illegal?
Brad Shear, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney and blogger who is an expert on social media and technology law, told our reporter.
“A carrier may sue for actual damages or for statutory damages,” He further said,
“Violations of the DMCA [unlocking your phone] may be punished with a civil suit or, if the violation was done for commercial gain, it may be prosecuted as a criminal act.”
In a worst-case scenario an individual or civil offense could be fined up to $2,500+. On the other hand if someone tried to get profit –like a reseller or someone planning to profit off – the fine could be exceed up to $500,000+ and include prison time.
“I don’t see carriers going aggressively after people, but bottom line is that I would not recommend violating this provision of the law.”
Jeschke said that “the EFF hasn’t heard of anybody who faced legal action during an earlier period when it was illegal to unlock phones in the U.S. before a prior rule change made it legal several years ago.”
In 2015, there will be another rule making over the exemptions and, according to Jeschke, “the question of the legality or illegality of unlocking a phone will likely be revisited”.
Until then, your best bet is to buy an unlocked phone.
Nilay Patel, a former patent attorney and managing editor of The Verge said:
“It’s unfortunate that the copyright office walked back this exemption to the DMCA, but the carriers are already shipping unlocked devices like the iPhone 5, so the impact on average consumers won’t be too bad.”