Unlocking is About to Become Illegal in the United States

A new batch of exemptions made to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are about to go into effect. As you may remember, the exemptions made three years ago included allowing jailbreaking, and also allowed customers to unlock their devices if they decided they wanted to use them on a different carrier. In revised exemptions going into effect October 28th, the Librarian of Congress has reconsidered the decision to allow unlocking and has now decided that smartphone unlocking without carrier permission will no longer be allowed.

There is some good news, however. Those of you that already own any kind of smartphone as well as anyone that purchases one within 90 days of October 28th will still be in legal standing if they unlock their phone without carrier permission. Basically, any phones you already have and any phone purchased before January 2013 will still be in the clear. Also worth noting is that these exemptions — which are in effect until this time in the year 2015 — will continue to allow jailbreaking as they always have. iPod touch owners have nothing to worry about.

iPad owners may need be concerned, however, because although the exemptions retained the ability to jailbreak our smartphones, the Librarian of Congress decided that this will not apply to tablets. The Librarian ”found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate.” Simply, the Librarian thinks the term “tablet” is too broad and to allow jailbreaking of tablets wouldn’t be well defined.

[Ars Technica]

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