Legal exemption allows iPhone unlocking

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Legal exemption allows iPhone unlocking

An exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US means that it may be legal to unlock an iPhone and use it on networks other than AT&T's.

A report in Business Week suggests that the exemption, which is in place for three years, covers computer programs that 'enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network'.

Individual users could therefore legally unlock an iPhone until the exemption runs out in November 2009.

Lawyers for Apple and AT&T have tried to deter hackers from unlocking iPhones in order to protect the monthly service charges they receive.

The two firms are expected to claim that a statement within the DMCA protects the iPhone from being unlocked because it is a copyrighted work.

The DMCA bill reads: 'No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.'

However, users who unlock their iPhone will not escape AT&T network charges completely if they move to another carrier.

The Apple phone, which went on sale on 29 June, was sold with a two-year contract and includes an early termination fee of US$175.

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