Printed from http://www.electronista.com

iPhone unlock firm threatened by AT&T [updated]

updated 05:00 pm EDT, Sat August 25, 2007

iPhone unlock firm threat

AT&T on Saturday has reportedly threatened legal action against a company that claims to have produced a software-unlock solution for Apple's iPhone. iphoneunlocking.com, a subsidiary of UniquePhones, promised to deliver the remote software unlocking services for the iPhone at 12 noon EST on Saturday, before it received a call from AT&T's lawyers early Saturday morning. Unlike recent reports, the company's software-based unlock solution has not been publicly demonstrated or confirmed. The lawyers, representing the US largest carrier, cited copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination, leading UniquePhones to seek additional legal advice and hold off on offering the unlocking service. [story updated]

"The sale of unlocking codes is on hold after the company received a telephone call from a Menlo Park, California, law firm at approximately 2:54 a.m. this morning (GMT)," the company wrote on its log. "Until an assessment is made of the potential of legal action, Uniquephones is unable to release the unlocking software for sale."

Interestingly, unlocking a cell phone last year became a recognized exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): the Register of Copyrights recommended six, limited exemptions, including an exemption for cell phone firmware that ties a phone to a specific wireless network. The exemption is valid for three years.

The company spokesperson also said that the company would also be evaluating what to eventually do with the software should they be legally denied the right to sell it: "A substantial delay caused by any legal action would render the unlocking software a less valuable commodity as well as creating unforeseen security issues for the company."

Separately, the iPhoneSIMfree.com team on Friday said they also had developed a software solution to use Apple's iPhone on any any carrier network, threatening to bypass AT&T's exclusive contract with Apple and enable the device for other carrier networks such as T-Mobile in US (and GSM networks in other countries).

The unlocked phone, demonstrated on Engagdet, used a T-Mobile SIM card in place of AT&T's default card, allowing the users to make calls, send text messages, and check email on an iPhone using their chosen T-Mobile service provider. Apple and AT&T launched the iPhone under an exclusive contract designed to seal customers into two-year service plans with AT&T, preventing iPhone owners from using other carriers.



By Electronista Staff
Post tools:

TAGS :

toggle

Comments

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    sorry

    but you can't keep the knowledge down, it will come out sooner or later

  1. exca1ibur

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 2000

    0

    Knowledge vs. business...

    The big difference is. Hacking it for your use, vs. trying to turn it into a business. The later will, and should, get you sued every time. They may have the knowledge to do it but come up as dumb-a** stupid, by trying to make a business of it.

  1. zeasar

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2007

    0

    Hmm....

    Well, I just hope that this isnt a scam... I live in the U.K and I personally dont know any company that would pick up a phone call at 2:54 in the morning...

  1. Rosyna

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +1

    DMCA allows this

    There was an exception to the DMCA passed in 2006 (number 5 on http://www.copyright.gov/1201/) that explicitly allows this type of software if it is designed to allow lawful access to a network (that is, you're a T-Mobile subscriber and are going to pay T-Mobile for access to their netwrok).

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007

    +1

    my $0.02

    "The lawyers, representing the US largest carrier, cited copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination, leading UniquePhones to seek additional legal advice and hold off on offering the unlocking service."

    Well if the firmware is written by the UniquePhones then ATT has no case.

    Anyways, the customer is the owner of the cell-phone, he/she has paid good money for it, and he/she decides to have it unlocked by whoever he/she wants. This is stupid, I should be able to take advantage of such a deal.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    +1

    excuse

    I guess their software doesn't work, and they made up a cheap excuse.

    Big companies try to bully people all the time, just ignore them.

  1. drole.homme

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    -1

    mmm...

    I'm not completely sure but I believe the illegal part is them offering the unlocking software. I know that with the exemption anyone can go into AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon... and pay for the key to unlock their phone. Of course this key could cost thousands but the cell provider has to offer it if requested. So the illegal part is them offering the unlocking software and not AT&T. Whatever I love my iPhone and I enjoy AT&T.

  1. Terrin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    0

    Don't think so

    As another poster pointed out, the DMCA allows for this type of usage. Moreover, the DMCA allows for reverse engineering of copyrighted code to allow interoperability of software. Finally, regular old copyright law allows for fair use rights of hardware you own. The last argument is the hardest to make, but is unnecessary considering the DMCA's provisions directed towards this matter.

    Moreover, the DMCA exception does not prohibit companies from charging for the unlock.

    >>>>The big difference is. Hacking it for your use, vs. trying to turn it into a business. The later will, and should, get you sued every time. They may have the knowledge to do it but come up as dumb-a** stupid, by trying to make a business of it.

  1. junkie

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2001

    +1

    interesting

    well it seems like they will be able to release this and charge for it - though its also the case that apple will be able to harden the iphone and break the unlock software.

    too bad there is this exclusivity clause to apple's deal with att. it would be much nicer if apple just made these for every network and were done with it. I mean sell them out of the store, people can choose cdma or gsm, and enable it the same way they do for att. apple would lose the 10% rev share they get from att, but their volumes would be much higher. I bet its a wash. Also people would be able to use them anywhere in the world.

    down the road, as chipsets and radios improve they might be able to have a universal phone that does both cdma and gsm and then it would be a single sku for the world. would be awesome and probably as good for them as the 10% rev they get from att et al.

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007

    -1

    change

    I think Apple had to lock itself with Cingular/ATT because Apple required the provider to modify its network to suit the visual voicemail. Cell-Phone network providers were never used to having a phone manufacturer dictate such terms.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.

toggle

Network Headlines

toggle

Most Popular

Sponsor

Recent Reviews

Kenu Airframe Plus

Simple, stylish and effective, the Kenu Airframe + portable car mount is the latest addition to Kenu's lineup. Released earlier this y ...

Plantronics Rig Surround 7.1 headset

Trying to capture the true soundscape of video games can be a daunting task. Looking to surround-sound home theater options, users hav ...

Adesso Compagno X Bluetooth keyboard

The shift from typing on physical keyboards to digital versions on smartphones and tablets hasn't been an easy for many consumers. Fro ...

Sponsor

toggle

Most Commented

 
toggle

Popular News