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 @ 9:08am

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

    No not for a plea, but as I said, your plea can be either innocent or guilty. If you plea innocent, it is up to the prosecution to prove you're guilt.

    He is not pleading to the crime, but to the act.

    Obviously it has been clearly shown that he commeted an act, for him to be sent to court, the prosecutors would of had to convince a judge that they had a viable case.

    Once they do that, the court issues the warrent, not the procecuters.

    He is most certainly not pleading guilty of commiting a crime. He is pleading guilty of commiting an act.

    And act that the prosecuters, that the prosecuting judge feel is a viable case to be heard.

    He is innocent, until proven otherwise in court, he has a presumption on inasence.

    It is up to the prosecution to prove that a crime has in fact been commited.
    The the act he committed constitutes a crime under the prosent law and statutes.

    If you go to court, and it is not in question whether you commited the act. you accept you commited the act, and plead guilty to commiting that act, but your defense is that allthough you commited that act. That act is not an illegal act.

    When he gets 'busted' he is told 'you are under arrest for commiting the ACT of whatever you did wrong.

    If you can prove you did not commit that act, you plead innocent, and you defend your case, and prosecution usuall government for laws. Will try to prove your guilt, your defense will try to prove your innocense.

    Now if you know that it is a no brainer for the prosecution to prove you commited the act. All you can do is prove that act is not illegal.. But you usually do that by pleading guilty (you'll be found guilty of commiting the act anyway), then you will spend more time in the determination of that act is a legal act or is an illegal act.

    Thats what happens in court, they try to discover if you are guilty, and what you are guilty of.

    If it is allready clear you are guilty, trying to prove your innocence or lying on the stand (thats the contempt bit), will only result in more trouble for you.

    He did the right thing, he pled guilty, saved the courts some time proving his guilt, he did not try to hide that fact that he did what he did. He believed that based on what he understood, (because of Lib of congress) that his act of jailbreaking the phone was a legal act..

    Then the court can spend their time not trying to prove that he is guilty or not. Or to establish if he commited that act.

    But to determine if that act is illegal, and if so what level of punitive measures should be taken.

    What in that can you find that is wrong ?

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