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“Get out of Jail Free” says US Copyright Office

0[1] In the spring of 2008 I slipped out of my hotel in San Jose, and headed over to the mall to buy an iPhone.  I remember the conversation with the clerk vividly.  He offered to activate it for me, and I said “No, I’m going to unlock it for use in Canada.” Shortly after, I furtively downloaded ziPhone in the privacy of my hotel room, and in about five minutes I had an illegally unlocked iPhone.

Illegal, you say?  Yes.  Until this morning, that is, when the US Copyright Office gave an exception to the practice of circumventing locks on cellphones, and a variety of other media in differing circumstances.  This is a huge victory for consumers, and one small step back toward a rational copyright regime instead of the mess that has been created by the DMCA.

Here in the Great White North our government has been forging ahead with Bill C-32, Canada’s own DMCA.  Arguing that this country needs to bring it’s copyright rules in line with WIPO standards, the Conservative Government has introduced even more draconian legislation than the US, especially now that US consumers have been granted exceptions to the DMCA.

In the US, the courts and the Copyright Office are saying that the phone the you bought is yours to use in any way you see fit.  That won’t be the way it is in Canada if C-32 passes. It’s time for Canadians to take a stand.  Visit Speak Out on Copyright today, sign up for your local chapter of Fair Copyright For Canada, and join the National Chapter on Facebook if you have a Facebook account.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Francis Moran July 26, 2010, 4:06 pm

    It's always nice to be freshly decriminalised, eh, Alec? (I wonder if this is how Conrad Black feels. But I digress.)

    Like you, I bought my first iPhone months before they were legally available in Canada and I bought it on eBay in an already-unlocked state. Every new model since that 1.0 version has been unlocked just as soon as possible, the last one, my brand new 3G, in a wee corner shop in Glasgow for a mere 10 quid. (I'm not quite as facile with the technical side of things as you are, my friend; I must outsource these once-criminal activities.)

    I was initially impressed by Apple's announcement today that unlocked iPhone 4s will be made available in Canada. Not sure the unsubsidised cost is worth the freedom, though, since we will still have to enter into lengthy contracts with the carriers to get any sort of affordable air and data plans.

    Still, both developments are long-needed shots for the emancipation of the consumer. Viva la revolucion!

    • Alec July 27, 2010, 6:26 am

      I agree Francis. I'm really unconvinced at the value of being able to BUY an unlocked phone from Apple. You're locked into a long term contract with your carrier anyway, and a much smaller amount of money will allow you to unlock the phone at any of the numerous unlockers that exist in the market today.

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