Unlocking Technology: Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Everyday Behavior

Last year, it was effectively made illegal to unlock your cell phone in order to switch your carriers.  A number of bills have been proposed since then to address the absurd laws currently on the books regarding this matter, but activist and consumer protection groups found many of them lacking.  A new bill proposed in the House is receiving more positive attention.  From Ars Technica:
New legislation sponsored by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) takes a broader approach to the issue. In addition to explicitly legalizing cell phone unlocking, the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 also modifies the DMCA to make clear that unlocking copy-protected content is only illegal if it's done in order to "facilitate the infringement of a copyright." If a circumvention technology is "primarily designed or produced for the purpose of facilitating noninfringing uses," that would not be a violation of copyright.

For example, Lofgren's bill would likely make it legal for consumers to rip DVDs for personal use in much the same way they've long ripped CDs. It would remove legal impediments to making versions of copyrighted works that are accessible to blind users. And it would ensure that car owners have the freedom to service their vehicles without running afoul of copyright law.

"Americans should not be subject to fines and criminal liability for merely unlocking devices and media they legally purchased," said Rep. Lofgren in a press release.


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