Unlocking Your U.S. Phone Becomes a Crime Jan. 26, 2013

I'll be most of us did not see this coming: on Jan. 26, 2013, it becomes a federal crime for the buyer of a smart phone to unlock  it, at least before the expiration of the contract, if there is one. 

The change is because a smart phone operating system is considered copyrighted material under provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). 

In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who can determine exemptions to the DMCA, decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. 

The rule apparently does not apply to devices sold unlocked in the first place, such as full retail price devices, or perhaps any smart phone sold to a user unlocked by the carrier itself. 

Apparently, it will continue to be illegal to unlock a tablet or game console. 

The legal foundation is that users only license, and do not own, the software on their devices. Some might be shocked to learn that the same legal principle  underlies a "purchased" library of songs, as well. 

Actually, it is unclear whether a user actually "owns" the songs in an iTunes library, or are only borrowed. In other words, what used to be a product now is sort of a subscription. 
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