Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Unlocking Your Cell Phone: Legal Since November 2006

The Library of Congress (who knew they were in charge of this) issued a new rule in 2006 making it legal to unlock cell phones for the “purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.”

The DMCA (which we all know and love) effectively prevented someone from even attempting to circumvent a copy protection scheme. Cell phone carriers applied this logic to their phones, stating that by locking the devices they were “copy protecting” them and anyone who unlocked the phone (or offered a program/method to unlock a phone) was in violation of the DMCA.

Crazy as it sounds, that’s the way the courts have interpreted the law. Hence why a ‘rule clarification’ was amended to the DMCA to allow phone unlocking.

read more | digg story


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2 Responses

  1. Quida says:

    I have a question my cellphone provider told me that I would have to be going out of the U.S. has one of the requirements for unlocking my phone is that true? The carrier also stated that I could not give my phone to someone else is that true?

  2. Joe says:


    Cellphone service providers don’t WANT to provide the unlock codes/processes as a rule, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t.

    If they pulled the whole “going out of the U.S.A.” trick on you, just tell them that you are considering traveling abroad for your vacation and if so will be picking up a SIM overseas (of course, this would mean you have a GSM phone, which you may not). They shouldn’t have a problem at this point.

    Regarding 3rd party unlocking, in most cases you signed a contract with your cellphone service provider which may (or may not) limit how you can unlock your phone. Since this falls under contract law it would not be relevant to the LOC rule.

    HOWEVER, if your contract doesn’t limit/prohibit you from unlocking, the LOC rule provides that you CAN use a 3rd party solution to unlock your phone.

    Regarding giving your phone to someone else, again, unless your contract states otherwise, it’s YOUR phone and you can do with it what YOU wish. Otherwise it’s THEIR phone and you’re just renting it.

    Another argument for ONLY buying open/un-locked phones.

    Let me know how things turn out, as well as who your cellphone service provider and cellphone make/model are, maybe someone reading this post can help you out.

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