I am having a heck of a time finding a definitive answer on this subject.
Last year the USPTO issued an opinion/ruling/announcement that people have the right to unlock their phones. Or at least I thought they did. Am I crazy?
I was told by one of our two mobile companies they would give us the unlock code for my daughter's phone before she leaves for Europe. No it's NOT an iPhone. The code they provided didn't work. Called them back and the service rep laughingly said they would NEVER unlock our phone and refused to escalate the call. So, in short, we'll soon just have ONE mobile company and that company has NEVER given me a hard time about unlocking my phones to use in other countries.
Actually it's back in 2006. Quoting from a "pcmagazine" story: --------- Last week, the Register of Copyrights released the latest list of exemptions to 1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and along with it, some welcome news for cell phone users.
Of the six proposed exemptions (the largest number to date), the one that arguably affects U.S. consumers the most is number five on the list, which covers:
"Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network."
In other words, it is now permissible for anyone to "unlock" a phone tied to one network and use it with another; as long as they own the phone. ----
You're only _partly_ crazy. It wasn't the USPTO. It was the "Librarian of Congress" (Head of the Library of Congress) at the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, originally in 2007. The ruling was to the effect that privately unlocking a phone was *NOT* a violation of the DMCA prohibition on circumventing access controls.
Such exemption determinations have to be made every three years, so the original determination is 'null and void'.
The current 'circumvention' exemptions are found in "37 CFR 201.40"
Section III of the announcement describes _all_ the classes of actions that were *proposed* to be exempt from the DMCA circumvention restrictions -- some the Registrar of Copyrights recommended approval of, others which were not so recommended.
Item (C), starting at the beginning of Page 6, and covering almost two pages, is the specific exemption or 'unlocking' cell phones, "without permission" of the 'copyright owner ' of the firmware.
Section IV of the document contains the Registrar's conclusions, AND the final determination by the Librarian -- which does -not- exactly follow the Registrar's recommendations. However, unlocking a cell phone _is_ retained as an exempt activity
This does *NOT* mean that a carrier _has_ to provide you the unlock code.
It only means that if you do it 'without their permission' you cannot be prosecuted for circumventing security controls, as proscribed by the DMCA.
I've never been given any such run-around by either T-Mobile (whose customer I am) or at&t ws (whose customer I neither am nor ever was) when seeking to unlock SIM-locked T-Mobile and Cingular GSM handsets, respectively.
Well dang it! :-) No wonder my online searches turned up nothing. The Library of Congress? Really?
T-Mobile and it's a phone we outright own. AT&T has unlocked two phones for me that were still under contract (i.e. the case could be made I didn't fully own them). No ifs, ands, or buts. I've called them, given them the IMEI and on the spot had the unlock codes. What do they care? Even if I take it T-Mobile I still have a contract I have to pay every month, right?
I guess T-Mobile irked me because they first said they would provide the unlock code and then didn't. And then snotty, sarcastic rep I dealt with the last time.
I have found various services that for $25 or so will provide an unlock code. Are these companies typically legit? Specifically I'm looking at gsmliberty.com.
My suggestion, John, if it's a T-Mobile- (or VoiceStream-) branded phone: phone in again, to the 1-800-WEST-WYR CS number, try to get to a "data" CS rep, explain that you're planning to be abroad for a week or two in a month or so and want to SIM-unlock the handset so as to be able to use a local prepay SIM while you're away, and the rep *should* stand ready *either* to talk you through the unlock steps on your handset, *or* to have an email sent to you with the relevant unlock code -- *and* detailed unlock instructions.
It may help to refer to the SIM-unlock code as the "SIM subsidy" unlock code, or the "SUK", to be using an instrument *other* than the handset you seek to unlock, and to have ready the make, model, IMEI, and current T-Mobile phone number of said handset.
Good luck; HTH; and cheers, -- tlvp (who's unlocked at least four T-Mo handsets in just the way described) -- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP
Thanks. If/when I decide to unlock our other outright owned T-Mobile phone I'll try that. I've already ordered an unlock code from GSMLiberty.com. At this point I am so disgusted with T-Mobile and the runaround I've gotten from them that $25 for an unlock code seems like a small price to pay. My time is worth something and I've spent too much of it on the phone with them as it is.
I was toying with the idea of leaving AT&T for T-Mobile because the latter offers better Android support and more products. But all T-Mobile has accomplished is assuring I will never be a future T-Mobile customer.
While on this topic, does anyone know of any legitimate paid services which will "jailbreak" or otherwise reprogram Apple iPods?
I'd love to have an iPod (or similar gadget) that would would able to
Function as a USB flashdrive or external drive equivalent -- i.e., I could connect it to the USB port on any Mac or PC computer that can handle external USB drives, and drag and drop files of _any_ standard formats onto it or or off it;
And, if those files include some audio files that are in one of the iPod-playable formats, one can then navigate to and listen to them on the free-standing iPod;
And, making the USB-connection re-charges the gadget's batteries:
And, doing the above never, ever, ever invokes or auto-triggers or in anyway involves the use iTunes.
In that regard, it's interesting to note that, while T-Mobile chooses to communicate the SUK and unlocking procedure by email, usually within one business day (Joseph's experiences mirror my own), at&t ws seems to prefer looking up the SUK and reading it off to you right when you ask, along with giving you the step-by-step for the unlock procedure, so as to be sure it worked correctly.
And, as Joseph pointed out, it's *imperative* to ...