Petition for DMCA exemptions regarding Rooting/unlocking gadgets

So you’ve been rooting devices eh? If you get caught you’re headed for the big house, the lockup, the pen, the joint, they’ll send you up the river, you better be careful! Seriously though, if you buy a device and circumvent the security features should that in itself be breaking the law? We’re not talking about stealing intellectual property, like playing copied games on a chipped system (yeah, that’s stealing). We mean unlocking a device so that you can use it for what you wish. Be it your own prototyping, or running open-source applications. Unfortunately if the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemptions expire it will be a crime.

Thankfully, [Bunnie] is doing something about this. You may remember him as the guy that found most of the ridiculous security holes in the original Xbox, or the brain behind the Chumby. Now’s he’s got an online petition where your voice can be heard. Speak up and let the US politicians know why unlocking a device isn’t a crime.

[via Twitter]

Comments

  1. danman1453 says:

    When it comes down to it, unlocking a device is like taking a toyota prius offroading. Using hardware for somethnig other than which it was designed for, but is ‘capable’ of doing. Is mudding with a prius going to be illegal too? Thats a ‘digital’ device, isnt it?

  2. chuckt says:

    Hardware is patented. Hardware isn’t copywrighted. So how can someone be violating a copyright by jailbreaking a phone?

    • GCL says:

      Technically yes. Look up the issues concerning the “Apple vs Franklin” lawsuits concerning the copyright issues of firmware.

      However the guidelines are quite clear on hardware that requires the user to put something into it to make it work. so doing strange things to a Toyota Prius is almost legal.

    • M4CGYV3R says:

      If I recall correctly, sometime in 2010/2011 the FCC/FTC ruled that jailbreaking an i_____ was legal, didn’t they?

      It still violates your warranties, and you can’t make it do illegal things to Apple’s servers, but you can root it.

      I also don’t think lack of the su ability is considered a ‘copyright protection’ device. I think it’s more of a device to prevent users from accidentally borking their system with misuse of superuser abilities, or downloading a program that exploits that functionality to do bad things.

      It would be a VERY hard thing to criminalize rooting your devices.

  3. Alex says:

    If I buy a tractor and find that it needs attachment points for tools, I weld them on. If I buy a house and find I need a bigger room, I knock out a wall. If I buy a book and think that the pages need a little more color, I take out a marker and color. If I buy a phone and decide I want MY code to run on it, you can be darn sure MY code WILL be running on it. When I buy a device it comes shipped with the cells in the memory pre-written, much like a book comes already filled with text. After I buy a book, I can write in WHATEVER I WANT. I can rip out pages, print new ones. Heck I could rip the cover off and put it on a completely different book. Same should go for my devices

    • Drone says:

      1. “If I buy a tractor and find that it needs attachment points for tools, I weld them on.”

      Thereby rendering your insurance coverage worthless.

      2. “If I buy a house and find I need a bigger room, I knock out a wall.”

      Oh yeah? When was the last time you ran up against the Goons your local zoning commission or homeowner’s society?

      3. “If I buy a book and think that the pages need a little more color, I take out a marker and color.”

      There was (and may still) be a time when this would get you killed in China. Try that today with a copy of the Koran and see what happens!

      4. “If I buy a phone and decide I want MY code to run on it, you can be darn sure MY code WILL be running on it.”

      There was a time in the U.S. not so long ago when even this was illegal.

      5. “After I buy a book, I can write in WHATEVER I WANT. I can rip out pages, print new ones. Heck I could rip the cover off and put it on a completely different book.”

      Ditto Item-3 above.

  4. DJ says:

    Jailbreaking has a negative conotation. It sounds cool but it also sounds like you are trying to do something wrong. Think like a politician/RIAA member. Make it sound wrong and you can make it be wrong. Unlocking sounds much better. Make it sound like you want to enter your own house versus trying to bust someone out of jail.

    These are the same politicians that brought us SOPA and PIPA. I doubt they care. Only reason SOPA and PIPA failed was the outcry of the corporations/public. In this case, corporations want devices locked up, encryped bootloaders, etc. so they can sell you upgrades, modifications, etc.

    Thank god computers didn’t start this route but Microsoft is trying real hard to implement trusted UEFI boot bringing all this “jailbreaking” to the PC world.

  5. Esker says:

    “(yeah, that’s stealing)”

    No, it’s not. It’s piracy. Stealing removes the original; piracy merely creates a copy. Its illegality is because of copyright infringement rather than theft.

    Please stop spreading misinformation like this. You’re harming your reputation.

    • mh says:

      And neither is it piracy -insert pegleg-. Why do people have to nitpick in the comments? wouldnt a mail/web-contact-form be the right way? either way, we all know what is meant by “stealing” in the same way that we know “surfing” the internet does not regquire a surfboard (and yes, the same goes for “piracy”) unless you are context-challenged.

      • Tomber says:

        These comments should be public so views can consider all aspects of the issue. You would rather have one-sided unanimity? I completely agree with hist post and you are wrong since piracy is indeed a word suitable for the act he described. Stealing is misused in the original text.

    • someonecool says:
    • m1ndtr1p says:

      Yes, piracy is stealing… You’re stealing their revenue (which IS tangible) and intellectual property by pirating, just because there are limitless copies available doesn’t make it right to steal.

      • someonecool says:

        What revenue? If I pirate something using a file hosted service (NOT torrents) then I am not distributing it, which would get rid of the argument that I am distributing it. Then, if I did not intend to purchase it in the first place, there is no lost revenue in comparison to me pirating it. Also, if I were to pirate something and then tell others about the movie and how awesome it was, I am providing advertising for them, which would increase the likely-hood that the person I am talking to will want to watch it in theaters or legally watch it, both of which would generate revenue.

    • “No, it’s not. It’s piracy. Stealing removes the original; piracy merely creates a copy.”

      We can “steal users data” or “steal company secrets”

      The idea that stealing requires a removal doesn’t really apply to modern usage of the word.

      In this case, its not stealing the object, its stealing the money/value of the object.
      Your stealing “potential profit” if you like.

      (Of course, its only potential profit if you were going to buy the thing anyway, and after pirating it never do and never by anything related that you wouldn’t overwise had. etc etc.
      So theres plenty of rational to say piracy isnt always theft anyway.)

      However, the idea of a physical removing of a object being a requirement of stealing though is pretty much dieing out in a increasingly none physical world we live in.

      • download a car says:

        “steal users data” or “steal company secrets” are again things which should not be said.

        Why not just say “illegally copied users data”, “illegally copied company secrets”, “illegally copied music”, “illegally copied movies”?

        I, for one, would illegally copy a car.

  6. Justin Case says:

    Constitutional ammendment: THE EQUALITY LAW
    If you make a law, or it is your employment to uphold a law, the sentence on conviction is to be double that of a private citizen if you break that law, and “two-for-one time served” and “consideration of public service” is waived.

    No government agency may be exempted or seek an exemption from the DMCA to use or posess circumvented technology for the purposes of prosecution, investigational, departmental, recreational, or personal use.
    Includes:
    ALL Police & agencies,Senior Military,Presidents,Prime Ministers & cabinet, Judges, Prosecutors.

    Excludes: non-enforcement/non-gov private citizenship
    ——————————-
    They would say they need the technology to do their “jobs”.
    So do we. That’s why we create them.
    “We” create the apps “they need”.
    No more us, no more apps for them.

    I knew of plenty of cops who had hacked DISH,BELL,&direct.
    They didn’t create it, but sure didn’t mind looking the other way and using it.

    -done-

  7. Karl Rosenqvist says:

    I guess removing the clumsy Windows XP on my asus netbook and installing linux was an offence to, huh? Call the cops, he’s got a linux-installation!

    • TheCapt says:

      I was going to make the same point, it is closer to the issue at hand.

      I buy a computer that is a combination of hardware and software. If I modify any of those outside the original configuration, without going through them, I am liable to void the warranty, with the exception of most of the software. If I format the drive and install a new OS, I am now running “their” firmware with “my” software. Obviously, they don’t encrypt the drive software or even lock me from using the ‘format’ command on my PC. But I cannot get into Windows and modify the code (easily) to make it do something different. Same with my phone, Xbox, Wii, whatever. I should be allowed to format the OS and install my own on the firmware I purchased.

  8. kelvin says:

    what should be illegal is stock, and advertised statistics..

    sony ericsson xperia x10i
    BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Po 1500 mAh (BST-41)
    Stand-by Up to 415 h (2G) / Up to 425 h (3G)
    Talk time Up to 10 h (2G) / Up to 8 h (3G)

    which is a figure pulled out of nowhere… more like 2 hours talk time, 10 hours standby.

    now root it, disable the stock rubbish, down clock, remove excess programs (advertised 512mb memory, actual 312mb (so 200mb used with the android / stock)

    and then you have a semi working phone. still NOTHING close to 425 hours standby…

    so, if they didn’t lie, i wouldn’t have to root.

    • Tom says:

      The phrase “Up to” should be banned fram all advertisments, the fines for breaking the rule would be defined as “at least a dollar” and the judge would pick a random high number and fine them that instead.

    • Alex says:

      Actually, as much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree with Sony on this one. That phone could just barely get that much standby. I have it. But there’s a catch. The phone can’t be activated for ANY REASON. That’s less that one phone check per day, no wifi, no bluetooth, display minimum brightness, no texts or calls, tower data at the absolute minimum, 5 bars of signal, absolutely nothing installed on the phone. But it’ll only lose maybe 3-5 percent a day if you’re careful (Too careful to be reasonable in real world use). Almost certainly couldn’t happen with the stock Sony crap installed. And I have to agree with Tom also. “At least a dollar” would be an excellent phrasing for punishment of false advertising like this.

      • JB says:

        So what you are saying is that the “advertised” standby time is some unrealistic, specially designed for the test, lab conditions no one can replicate in real life. They should outright BAN that type of advertisement.

      • WhatNow says:

        No, it actually makes sense.

        Talk time and standby time are ratings for a fresh 100% charge and that’s the ONLY thing you do.

        I would actually like one more: screen-on time. A 100%-to-power-down rating.

        With those ratings, if I talk 5 hrs of the time from a fresh charge, I know that I will have 50% of my standby time remaining (or 200ish Hrs).

      • WhatNow says:

        You know what? I hope they ban rooting and unlocking software.

        Why?

        I have a Nexus One. You know how easy it is to achieve root or unlock without any hacking tools? OH WAIT, it’s not locked to begin with! If I really wanted root, I just throw on CyanogenMod7/9 and have root with all the considerations it should have (superuser prompts, warnings, tools, etc). There was never an issue installing software outside the Android Market (unknown sources ftw).

        Google, HTC, and SE have all made their phones able to install custom OSes that provide root without needing to hack. Quite literally, all you do is power up and hold down a volume button with a few zip files in the root folder.

        Even if there is no exemption of any kind, it’d be perfectly legal because THEY LET YOU.

        Anyone else who chooses a locked down product deserves what they get.

  9. Welsh says:

    I think you will find that playing copied games is not stealing, but “copyright infringement”

  10. smoker dave says:

    Two different points being talked about here. Unlocking and jail breaking.

    If you buy a mobile phone from a service provider on some form of tariff, that service provider has actually subsidised a large amount of the cost of the handset. You can compare to buying a “sim free” handset.

    The whole point in locking phones in the first place was to give the service provider a chance to recover those costs by forcing you to complete your contract or forcing you to “buy yourself out” of a pay as you go tariff

    If you have completed the term of your contract, the phone is legally yours and the service provider will provide you an unlock code free of charge, if you ask for it.

    So there is a good reason for protecting service provider subsidy locks.

    I was involved in the GSM scene for over 10 years and have literally unlocked a couple of thousand handsets using “unauthorised” methods over the years. But facts are facts, the service providers do have a case to make unlocking illegal.

    Rooting / jail-breaking is an entirely different subject, something I know nothing about.

    • m1ndtr1p says:

      “the service provider will provide you an unlock code free of charge, if you ask for it.”

      I wish… Providers here in Canada charge upwards of $50 to unlock your device and only after your contract is done.

      • smoker dave says:

        Seems like an issue you need to sort out in your country then. Here in the UK, once you have paid for the phone (via your monthly contract payments), it is yours and they release the unlock code for free.

      • JB says:

        @smoker,

        Free unlocking should be the law in every country. And the unlocking should be automatic, no need to request it. They (the companies) get away with a lot at our expense.

    • gman says:

      Unlocking phones should in no way be illegal. You bought the phone under the (blank) year contract and not the carrier lock on the phone. If I buy a phone subsidized by a contract I should be able to use that phone in any way I choose as long as I pay out the contract.

      • smoker dave says:

        Talk sense gman, this is an economical society.

        Do you think the network provider will subsidise a pay as you go phone and then allow you to simply ditch the SIM card and shift to another network? They would be loosing money!

        If you want to abolish phone locking, then you would also need to abolish subsidised phones. Pay as you go customers would need to pay “sim free” charges for a handset.

        In fact this is the way it is shifting here in the UK. The more high end phones are only available on a pay as you go tarrif at the sim free price. Most likely due to the fact that the security of a subsidy lock is so weak.

    • Bob says:

      smoker dave, you’re right. But notice that you’re describing a contractual issue, not a copyright issue.

      If jailbreaking is to outlawed, it should be as breach of contract, not as a violation of intellectual property.

    • Alex says:

      I disagree. They provide the phone, you are locked into a contract. Unlocking the phone doesn’t change that contract one bit. You still have to stick with them until the end of the contract or pay off the contract. Doesn’t matter if you are using the subsidized phone or not.

  11. dattaway says:

    “UNDER PENALTY OF FEDERAL LAW, THESE SCREWS ARE NOT TO BE REMOVED BY UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS.”

  12. Justin Case says:

    Yea, let’s leave the hacking to the Chinese, they have no stupid DMCA or stringent environmental laws to impede their progress, …and how’s that working china?? Really, you own the US now??? So… good???

    We can trust what comes from there, HEY US GOVERNMENT, HOW’S IT GOING BUYING YOUR MILITARY DEFENSE COMPONENTS OFF OF EBAY?!!

    (sorry, no more soap box from me on this anymore)

    • NewCommentor1283,ihatetorx says:

      lol remember those ILLEGAL COUNTERFIT electronics in those “military” helicopters they purchased a little while ago ??? people’s home creations on here are WAY better build quality / parts-GRADE/quality then the bungled parts they had in those keeping them in the air (aka alive @ that altitude)

      i mean a crystal precise timing component with the label sanded off and a different one re-painted??????? and the paint was crooked! dont those end up in the SUB-consumer quality bin instead of the MILITARY-grade bin ?!!?!?!?!?!?!??!

      all the bad units ordered/originated from china, go figures, like what, you cant even solder ONE computer to keep your troops alive while protecting you?????? geez, at least MY country builds its own shit (im pretty sure), at least for the helicopters, geesh!

      50 bucks says those designs were originally hand crafted masterpieces ripped off from another country…

      like the guy selling bad 12v>wallsocket inverters that smoked up after 30 mins of LIGHT load…

      ill take the bus thank you!

  13. DosX says:

    Should Have it Be unchanging so it doesnt have to be renewed

  14. M H says:

    If you are interested in this it is worth looking at
    the EFF page on this matter

    https://www.eff.org/pages/jailbreaking-not-crime-tell-copyright-office-free-your-devices
    (which has a link to the copyright office form for submitting comments, as well as some suggestions to help when commenting using the copyright office form).

    The Software Freedom Law Center proposal to extend these protections to all personal computing devices are also worth a read (and support).
    http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2011/dec/02/proposed-dmca-exemption/

    As to the merits of the proposal, I am reminded of this quotation.

    “I am concerned that children of today
    don’t have enough junk to take apart.
    Try taking a clock apart. What do you find?
    A chip, an LED, and a battery.
    What do you learn from that,
    other than not to do it again?”
    -Alvin Trivelpiece, Executive officer AAAS

    However, if one is inclined to EE, one can learn what that chip, LED, etc. do, and perhaps repurpose them, etc. The freedom to take it apart, learn how it works, tinker with it is essential to fostering the next generation of software developers and entrepreneurs.

    The business of Microsoft’s use of UEFI (as well as various other closed system initiatives) is particularly ironic, given that once upon a time Microsoft press republished Computer Lib / Dream Machines.

  15. N0LKK says:

    An online petition, does anyone take those seriously? Those being petitioned that is. No doubt because it can be filed under it cant hurt the EFF encourages signing Bunnie’s petition. The EFF also provides information as to how to petition the copyright office through copyright office channels. Here is the link Mike should have included in his article, and the one Bunnie included on his petition page https://www.eff.org/pages/jailbreaking-not-crime-tell-copyright-office-free-your-devices . Jail breaking is jargon, as such doesn’t really make clear tour position, if you support the right of the consumer to remove manufacturer supplied firmware, to be replaced with firmware of the equipment owner’s choosing. Off to go compose some comments. Hopefully I don’t seem to suggest something like, slide rules once took up entire room.

  16. Corrosion says:

    LMAO, the background of that logo is from the metasploit handbook

  17. ewookie says:

    i don’t think DMCA makes it illegal to actually do stuff like jailbreaking. i think it makes it illegal to publish instructions (including programs) on how to do it.

    • Malikaii says:

      I imagine that Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Speech make it illegal to make it illegal to publish ANYTHING (yes, I did that on purpose). for instance, many of the things in the Anarchist’s Cookbook are illegal to produce (homemade explosives like Dynamite), but it isn’t illegal to publish or read it. Same with manifestos like Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto.

      @NOLKK: I got a reply from the “White House” when I signed the petition against SOPA. They pay attention to them, but I can’t say for sure whether or not they have any real effect. Either way, it can’t hurt to try. Bunnie even made it SUPER easy for people who can’t be bothered to do any research or thinking for themselves. Click the link, fill in your info, click submit. (That was not an attack against you.)

      I signed. I shared on FB. Honestly though, I would be surprised if the judge(s) in this case didn’t laugh the copyright clowns right out of court. This is exactly as everyone has made analogies; who is going to enforce it, and how? Would they tell you that you can’t put an engine from a different car in your Pinto? It’s just so unrealistic.

      • Sadly not, see the whole Sony/PS3 youtube mess.
        Freedom to publish is not absolute.

      • “Owww, friends are coming to visit us. Darling, could you please shut down the TV – we can not let them steal their revenue.”

        Given your friends all see the adverts too, they get the same “value” from them. Even if they dont a few people watching is considered reasonable use. TV subscriptions are per-houshold, not per person.

        On the other hand, if you invite a hundred people over to watch a pay-per-view event, you could well get in trouble as that might well have reduced their revenue.

        Im either case, this is more a question of “would they have paid for it anyway” and less one of duplication vs moving stuff. (which imho, is much more at the core of the debate then the word stealing or theft is)

  18. metalwolf says:

    What happened to the days when actually doing something was a crime but talking about the subject is passable? This would make demonstrating how to interface a cars starter to a computer for a car-pc project like mine illegal because i am technically teaching how to hot-wire a vehicle.

  19. therian says:

    “We’re not talking about stealing intellectual property, like playing copied games on a chipped system (yeah, that’s stealing).”

    no that not stealing its copy right violation

  20. oodain says:

    since when can anyone control the thoughts that flare up in the mind of a person?

    were we to uphold the copyright standard in the analog world as we do in the digital it would be illegal to lend a book to a friend or even as mentioned before let guests watch your tv unless they have the same license at home.

    in the end 95% of the money lost were money that would have gone to a fatcat anyway (much less than the actual number of downloads, i wont even guess how low)

    then comes the issue of who profits unfairly from who, surely the artists should be taken into consideration in the face of some large companies.

  21. woodwork hacker says:

    unfortunately this is economics. Intentionally crippling your own device has become the norm and in some cases the business strategy of some companies. As long at this business strategy exists companies will always try to stop end users de-crippling it.

    See kinet, kindle, IPhone.

  22. maddoc666 says:

    Does that mean the CIA will get taken to the cleaners for that array of PS3’s they have for number crunching etc. I’m pretty sure they won’t have them sitting doing this with stock FW and even with permission from Sony, should fall foul of this law.

    • Justin Case says:

      I was also thinking of this very example.

      Like always, this law is not meant to apply to “them”, just people like me and you.

      Government will, as always, write in a self exemption clause.

      If government had to live within their own laws, there would be less laws!!!

  23. Spork says:

    If “bunnie”‘s writing wasn’t reminiscent of a fifth grade student, I’d be willing to sign the “letter.”

    Fact of the matter is, I agree that the DMCA seems to be this all powerful tool used to sue anyone for any reason, but 18,000 people (so far) signing a childish “stop the big bad companies” letter makes me want to side against those 18,000. Furthermore if you are going to write a letter, don’t call yourself ‘bunnie.’

    The reason laws and acts like the DMCA are created and passed is because people sit back and lull in their ignorance until the the news has a big story on how some law enforcement agency broke in to some poor person’s home and stole all the computer hardware, phones, game consoles, etc, then locked him up for a week and questioned him. — That is when people start to listen, unfortunately that is when it is already too late.

    • Malikaii says:

      I don’t understand how your logic works in this statement. You say you are not going to sign the letter (personal opinion aside), yet complain that no one does anything until it is too late? Are you including yourself in that group who does nothing?

      It was stated on the EFF website that they are asking people to write personal pleas/requests/ what-have-you on the actual Copyright Office’s website. That means that you don’t have to sign [bunnie]‘s “letter”, but you can still do something about it.

  24. Kristy says:

    Mike, how the hell do you pronounce your last name?

  25. what a hell is going on with this world, seriously?

  26. Paul says:

    If it is illegal or not some people will do it. Some will get caught and some will not.

    The problem is that anyone who finds out how and posts the instructions on line will get caught. They will get in trouble. The next time the instructions won’t be available online and the rest of the folks on the net won’t know how to do it.

  27. Azri says:

    bottom line folks. i PAID for a phone that i wanted because of certain inbuilt abilities, bells and whistles. SCREW whomever locks down those options. i PAID for a phone to do certain things , i will NOT pay a 2nd time, or monthly for the privilege to use those abilities.
    that’s like buying brand new car and having the dealership lockdown the wheels and then tell me to cough up another couple thousand or they won’t unlock the wheels. i mean, technically the car still works but your not going anywhere!

    i PAID for whatever device & i will hack/root the device when i want to!! this is MY private property to do with as i see fit!
    as for signing the petition thingy? i’ll think about it. in the meantime i’ll enjoy the device i PAID for to it’s fullest!!

    the world just keeps getting dumber and dumber!! if you don’t believe me, find a friend who has a child in public school and see what they are doing! seriously! dumbing down…and this just seems like 1 more brick in the wall of ignorance.

    fyi, the gov? will do what nets the individuals the most cash. schlubs like all of us? most likely not. but hey, ya gotta try right?

    Cheers and sorry for the varying rants! :D

  28. Kaj says:

    Every time I look at what one has to do in order to run code on an iPhone, I remember my old Palm pilot.
    Palm didn’t care where the program came from, or what you used it for. You paid for the hardware, you could run anything you liked on it, so long as the programmer didn’t screw it up too badly.
    They even gave away free Dev kits.
    Sigh…

  29. WhatNow says:

    I hope they ban rooting and unlocking software.

    I have a Nexus One. You know how easy it is to achieve root or unlock without any hacking tools? OH WAIT, it’s not locked to begin with! If I really wanted root, I just throw on CyanogenMod7/9 and have root with all the considerations it should have (superuser prompts / warnings, tools, etc). There was never an issue installing software outside the Android Market (unknown sources ftw).

    Google, HTC, and SE have all made their phones able to install custom OSes that provide root without needing to hack. Quite literally, all you do is power up and hold down a volume button with a few zip files in the root folder.

    Even if there is no exemption of any kind, it’d be perfectly legal because THEY LET YOU.

    Anyone else who chooses a locked down product deserves what they get.

  30. Pinnky says:

    surely if you own a device, you can do what you want with in includeing drilling 2 holes in it and wereing it as a neckalace..

    whats the world comeing to..

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