AT&T Taking Action Against iPhone Unlocks?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Last week a number of iPhone unlocking claims were made by different individuals with one confirmed success. A second company (iPhoneUnlocking) also announced they had a software-only solution, but according to a press release, they claim to have been contacted by AT&T's law firm to prevent the release of their unlocking service.

    The original iPhone unlocking site ( has not revealed if they have been similarly approached by AT&T.

    Article Link
  2. thisonechance macrumors regular

    Feb 22, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    I have a feeling this will gather quite a few negatives. So many were excited about the unlocking.
  3. macses macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2007
    well, I'm just about to order an iPhone. I hope this software will come out soon.

    a Belgian iPhone fan
  4. 88Keys macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2007
    AT&T has already lost this battle. Just a matter of time before the software is released in the wild for free.
  5. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    I supposed its been mentioned before, but all mobile phones in the UK are "unlocked" so you can bung in any SIM card of your choice.

    I wonder how well the iPhone will do in the UK if it has a straitjacket deal attached to it.

    Early adoptors eh?, i used to be one of them. :rolleyes:
  6. emotion macrumors 68040


    Mar 29, 2004
    Manchester, UK
    Am I surprised?

    Are you sure about that?
  7. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    not surprising at all.
    wonder what Apple's stance on this is?
    i think AT&T is betting on and holding onto the iPhone quite a bit. they've done a lot to make it work, and obviously don't want to lose it.
  8. jsnyd05 macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2006
    the lou
    Good ole att throwing that legal muscle around
  9. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    I believe ATT has nothing to do there unless they pay big $$$ to keep those softwares locked. I mean, is reverse ingeneering and you can not do anything about that. It sucks (for them) but it is not ilegal.

    Despite, what if I want to use a phone in a country where ATT has no offices? I can call that discriminatory if the case.
  10. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    Why can't Apple just cripple the unlock in one of their frequent software updates?
  11. emotion macrumors 68040


    Mar 29, 2004
    Manchester, UK
    Apart from the loss of visual voicemail, which I think Apple won't like (ie. reduced function damaging the user experience), this kind of plays into Apple's hands in some respects.

    It dramatically increases the market for the device for one.
  12. dave491 macrumors newbie


    Nov 5, 2003
    Columbus, Ohio
    Just out of curiosity (and a large portion of ignorance) ("Dammit, Jim, I'm a designer not an attorney!"), what's the legal grounds that AT&T has for stopping the software from being distributed? Altering hardware that's your own property doesn't seem actionable. (at least to me, but I'm no expert...)
  13. Cleve macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2007
    Apple was founded on Phone Phreaking

    Steve Jobs and Woz first worked together on Blue Boxes - ILLEGAL phone boxes that they sold to UC Berkley students for $150 a pop that would screw AT&T out of revenue. They used their ill gotten gains to fun the Apple 1 prototype. The rest - as they say -is history.

    Why no one talking about this?
  14. emotion macrumors 68040


    Mar 29, 2004
    Manchester, UK
    WHat does the DMCA say about that situation?
  15. iShak macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2006
    AT&T spent a lot of time and money in negotiations with Apple to obtain this exclusivity, they even changed their network setup to cater for the visual voicemail, so in a way they have every right to defend themselves against any software that would damage their profits, it is a business after all!

    The law does provide iPhones owners the right to unlock their phones for 'personal use only' but lets face it, the people outside USA will be the first ones to take advantage of such unlocks before any existing iPhone owners within USA, but like many have said already, I doubt if AT&T would be able to maintain iPhone exclusivity for long now, its just a matter of time before crack is released in the wild for free.

    Now the only way to keep the existing customers locked to their network is to to provide them with incentives that other networks can't, price cuts, freebies, better support etc. hope they realize this soon and stop this frenzied/crazy use of legal paper against small time companies ...
  16. macintel4me macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2006
    legal or illegal = doesn't matter

    Ok, they hired some high-priced local attorney to see if they can fight AT&T's legal team. Ummm...despite the local attorney's opinion, the answer is no. Resistence is futile. Make some/all of it open source and make money on the fame of this case through above-board services.

    Anyone who thinks that they could make a buck on this type of venture, even if it's 100% legal, is kidding themselves.
  17. shov macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2006
    phones in the uk have to be unlocked at the customer's request at the end of the contract period. still doesn't stop 3 charging £15 and being awkward about unlocking my housemate's old phone so i can use it...

    i reckon a lot of initial features were disabled in the iphone partly because they weren't ready but also so they could be added at later software updates. these later software updates would re-lock any unlocked phone, so people with unlocked phones could choose to keep them unlocked but miss out on some features (cut n paste, mms, video).
  18. TheChillPill macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    No, they're not. If you buy on a contract, they are almost always locked (with a few exceptions). However, with most handsets you do have the option to buy it 'sim free' - though obviously at significant expense.
  19. jersey macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2007
    AT&T has brought this on themselves. There is no one else to blame. We, as consumers, are allowed to unlock our mobiles hones as per the DMCA exception #6. Previously, AT&T has unlocked your phone after 90 days in contract or if you requested an unlock for overseas travel. However they are not maintaining this policy for the iphone.

    The DMCA states that the consumers are allowed to unlock phones, but not using software to bypass security in place on the phones, which means we have to ask for the unlock codes from our carrier. However if the carrier is unwilling to provide said code, what is the consumer supposed to do?

    Furthermore, a phone is locked to a network because it was purchased with subsidy from a specific carrier. The lock helps ensure the carrier profits from the sale of the subsidized phone with a calling contract. Our phones were bought without subsidy. We paid full retail value for the phone, and should be given unlock codes at the moment we ask.

    In an ideal situation, the phones comes unlocked in the box, and you are warned that if you want to use all the features the phone has, you need to use XXX carrier, if you choose another carrier, functionality may be limited. But this isn't the case.

    AT&T should be warned, a very winnable class action over this issue, will be coming. And soon.

    Live by the DMCA, die by the DMCA.
  20. achbed macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2003
    Can you say DMCA?

    Yes, I thought you could. Everyone repeat after me: DMCA - I Can't Touch Anything Anymore (even if I paid big bucks for it).
  21. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    According to this, AT&T doesn't have a leg to stand on, if I'm reading/applying this correctly. And it's been mentioned before that Apple could really care less as an unlocked iPhone means more sales for them.

    Maybe that was AT&T?
  22. alexeismertin macrumors regular


    Jun 2, 2005
    Bristol, UK
    Almost all phones in the UK are 'locked' to their respective networks, it costs about £10 from third parties to unlock them. O2 are a bit more relaxed (can't be bothered) to lock their contract phones although their pay-as-you-go ones are mostly locked. In addition to the locking, they use heavily branded software & print their logo's permanently on the handset.

    I think that the mobile companies do offer an (albeit expensive) unlocking subsidy code to allow you to use your phone abroad.
  23. juanm macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    But on the other hand, it gives Apple much ground to get a deal with mobile carriers.
  24. koobcamuk macrumors 68040


    Oct 23, 2006
    True in many cases, but they can be unlocked in shops in many city centres.

    You can also buy unlocked handsets directly from the manufacturer.
  25. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Actually, the DMCA would appear to apply (have applied), otherwise, why was an exemption issued for unlocking cell phones?

    I think there is some murk to the issue. Other analysts have argued that there may be a grey area here, where a consumer is exempted from unlocking their phone, but a company is not exempted from selling unlocking software. Hopefully that interpretation does not hold up, but the iPhone is probably more likely than any other to be a test case. :(

    Also, PS, if there are no locked phones in the UK, why are there so many unlocking services doing storefront business in the UK? :rolleyes:

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