Navigate/Search

Archive for the 'ip/copyright' Category

Crack that whip phone

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

For a while now, I’ve wanted a ruggedized cell phone. Motorola makes some good ones, including some that are JIS7 compliant, ie. you can submerge it under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and it’ll still work. Drop it from 2 meters onto concrete repeatedly, and it’ll still work. And, I’ll admit, I like the way they look… Screw that svelte Razr – gimme something that looks like it comes from the set of Aliens.

The problem has been that Motorola has only produced these phones for one carrier (and only that one carrier) while our household happens to use another. You can crack the software that locks you in to one carrier; you can then plop your SIM card in and use it without skipping a beat on your existing contract. As you might have guessed from the use of the term ‘crack’, this is in a legal grey area, particularly with the advent of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which prohibited the circumvention of any kind of software protection.

No more – the Copyright Office has cleared such behavior as legal. w00t!

Oh yeah, and it is also legal to crack ‘abandonware’ games, ie. games that lack hardware, or where the publisher is no longer around, but only for ‘archival’ purposes. Still, a not entirely unreasonable turn of events. The Copyright Office could have issued a broader decision, but they could have definitively shut the door on such practices as well…