Jailbreaking Phones Lands A Guy In... Jail!

from the dmca-exemptions-be-damned dept

You may remember, back in 2006, one of the DMCA "exemptions" granted by the Librarian of Congress was for jailbreaking or unlocking mobile phones, for the purpose of moving them to a different carrier. This move was most seriously fought by one company: Tracfone, which offers prepaid phones at a steep discount. Its business model only works if you can't jailbreak phones -- but copyright law was never about protecting one company's bad business model. Tracfone has even claimed that allowing such jailbreaking is a matter of national security. What they really mean is that it's a matter of protecting their business model.

Tracfone actually sued the Librarian of Congress for allowing jailbreaking but, in 2007, quietly dropped the lawsuit because it found that courts were simply ignoring the exemption. Instead, Tracfone just kept suing people for jailbreaking and many caved and settled. What was really troubling though, was that people were being put in jail for this. Now, in the first trial involving such a case, a guy (who has already spent over a year in jail for unlocking phones) has been found guilty of violating the DMCA.

This is according to a press release put out by the lawyers representing Tracfone and they sort of bury the key point: the guy pled guilty. So it's not as if a court judged the overall situation on the merits. But what's scary is that this seems to clearly go against the very exemption the Librarian of Congress made for jailbreaking phones. And we're not even talking about a civil copyright complaint here, but a criminal one... for doing something that the Librarian of Congress has already said is legal.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, jailbreaking, phones, unlocking
Companies: tracfone


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  1. identicon
    Darryl, 1 Dec 2010 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re: From the 'im sure he had lots of fun there' dept..

    The only difference between an innocent plea and a guilty plea is determined by if you want the prosecution to prove your guilt.

    But if your guilt is not in doubt, the court takes a dim view of waisting time.

    So it was clear the prosecution had iron clad proof of his guilt.
    Therefore, to save the court some time, you plead guilty, its probably better than to bring evidence, and things that prove it, and its saves time, and lots of money.

    And maybe ifyou are found guilty you might also have to pay court costs, lawyers and things.. If you can afford an expensive lawyer to defend you on a lost case you plead innocent.

    If you did it, but feel that law said that is ok, then you HAVE to say "yes, I did it, but that is ok, but some librarian said it was. (is that a law, you say "state" people state lots of things. That does not mean it is automatically enshrinded as law does it ?

    I hope he checked that..

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