Hackers Remind That iPhone Is Still MyPhone

    August 28, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

People have this silly notion that when they buy something, it belongs to them and they can do what they want with it. Silly people. Apple’s been relatively quiet about threats to sell software and tools to unlock the iPhone, and AT&T hasn’t made any public statements, but a few lawyer warning shots have been fired in private.

Hackers Remind That iPhone Is Still MyPhone
Hackers Remind That iPhone Is Still MyPhone

Cable packages filled with channels you don’t want, $300 DVRs you don’t really own, DRM on the music you buy, two broadband providers to choose from, $500 phones that only work on one network – consumers are getting fed up with a so-called free economy where vendors, not consumers, dictate the terms by which items are sold.

Yes, it’s your phone, but it’s worthless unless you use it the way we tell you to use it. Pretty soon, if you buy a certain brand of bread, you’ll be locked into buying a specific brand of peanut butter, too.

UniquePhones, a company that planned to release software that would unlock the iPhone for use on other networks says it got a crack-of-dawn call from an AT&T attorney alleging copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination.

Though AT&T definitely has a dog in this fight – they could lose some money if customers actually have some free choice – it’s not completely clear what legal ground the company is standing on. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows consumers to unlock devices, and any copyright infringed is owned by Apple, not AT&T.

And even then, it’s unclear if Apple could apply law intended to prevent illegal copying and distribution of DVDs, CDs, and video games.

BusinessWeek brings up the best reminder:

Remember, decades ago, automakers built their instrument panels so that only authorized radios of their own manufacture would fit in. Eventually, U.S. courts ended that practice. "If Apple and AT&T push too hard, they might see a revision of [the Copyright Act, and it won’t be in their favor]," says Richard Doherty, director of consultancy the Envisioneering Group.

And, in my estimation, if companies keep being hyper-restrictive and consumer unfriendly with everything they produce and sell, they’re likely to see consumer revolt, or at least government intervention.