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‘Jailbreaking’ Your Phone Will Be Illegal After Jan. 26

Wireless carriers will now have to give permission


Smartphone and GlobeStarting tomorrow, unlocking a smartphone will be a crime.

The habit of unlocking, or “jailbreaking,” a phone so it can operate across all wireless networks is going to become illegal, reports AppAdvice. The ruling was made by the Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress back in October. The ruling allowed for a 90-day window before becoming enforced. That window expires tomorrow.

Previously, jailbreaking was permitted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But no more. The move comes from a decision that says the firmware inside each smartphone is copyrighted by the phone’s maker and, therefore, permission must be obtained to use it in any manner not strictly authorized by the company.

Some carriers are OK with unlocking phones, and some are not. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), for example, will sell an unlocked iPhone at any Apple store if you pay full price, with no subsidized contract. Consumers would do best to check on their carriers’ policies before attempting to unlock any phone without explicit permission.

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