Electronic Design

iPhone Unlock Sparks Services And Legal Issues

Since 17-year-old George Hotz of New Jersey announced he had successfully completed the world’s first hardware-based iPhone unlock last Thursday, two other groups came up with software-based solutions for freeing the Apple device from AT&T’s network. Though both companies — iPhoneSimFree.com and iphoneunlocking.com — have started marketing their unlocking services via the web, only one has claimed to encounter legal troubles. Belfast, UK-based uniquephones.com – the parent company for iphoneunlocking.com that specializes in phone unlocking – said it received a call from Menlo Park, California-based O'Melveny & Myers, threatening “copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination” issues. A release on the Web site states the company isn’t sure whether the threat is legitimate or not, and technology Web sites and blogs abound with speculation on the legality of unlocking, relying on interpretations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA). The consensus so far has been that it’s probably not a DMCA violation to figure out the unlock on your own, but selling software or servicing unlocks will likely have big-time legal counsel banging at your door. IPhoneSimFree.com hasn’t received angry calls from lawyers since it launched a rushed, text-only Web Site after technology blog Engadget verified its software-based solution on Friday. The site has since been upgraded. Hotz settled into his dorm at RIT on Saturday amid problems with bogus bids on the world’s second unlocked iPhone he was selling on ebay. Instead, he traded it for a Nissan 350z and three 8-Gig iPhones, blogging about his plans to unlock the phones and distribute them to the three others he worked with on the project. Terry Daidone, founder of Louisville, KY-based cell phone repair company CertiCell extended the offer, along with a consulting contract. Puremobile also invited Hotz to do consulting work in between classes. His first project, according to his blog, is a GPS for the iPhone that works based on cell-phone-tower triangulation.

TAGS: Mobile
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