The Obama Administration’s strong statement in support of cell phone unlocking has quickly generated a flurry of bipartisan activity on capitol hill. All the attention and energy is a welcome response to the Copyright Office’s decision that as of January 26, unlocking your new phone to use it on another mobile network is no longer exempt from lawsuits under the arcane and technical anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.
As I wrote in 2009 (in connection with the previous round of Copyright Office proceedings on anti-circumvention exemptions), it makes no sense for copyright law to stand in the way of wireless customers unlocking their phones. Rather than protecting any meaningful copyright interest, opponents of the exemption for unlocking are instead interested in protecting their business model of selling phones below cost and recouping their subsidies through ongoing monthly service fees.
Read more »