iPhone Unlock legality

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ciaran00

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Jul 21, 2007
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#1
So before I begin, I'd like to spare all Apple apologists from having to reply. I'll just summarize all the pro-Apple points here so that they need not be repeated:
  • Apple has explicitly said that the Phone is to be used with AT&T and that anything else is outside the fair/intended use of the Phone
  • Apple has never promised 3rd party utilities
  • Apple has never promised use of our own ringtones
  • Apple had explicitly warned people of the 1.1.1 update procedure and how it may adversely affect unlocked and/or hacked phones. They have even gone as far as declaring this in their physical store locations.
  • Apple has never promised cut and paste, IMing, MMS, or any such improvements on the iPhone platform
Yes, none of these issues are in dispute. Neither will I deny that any and all of the above are legal. They are completely legal.

However, here in the US, we try to keep corporations in line and tend to put great value in consumer rights, and the ability of the average consumer to fight exploitation by corporations in general (ie: Erin Brokovich).

So, in my opinion Apple has crossed the line, and for these following points they should be held responsible:
  • Unlocked iPhones using 1.0.2 get bricked when updating to 1.1.1. Not an issue in and of itself because:
  1. Apple warned us all in advance
  2. Unlocking is outside the fair/intended use of the iPhone
but...
IS a huge consumer rights issue because:
  1. iTunes is built in to accept updates by default. The 1.1.1 update popup does not explicitly state that it will destroy your iPhone in certain conditions. It appears as something that is benign (and recommended). Morever, Apple's "explicit" warning is only available to those who visit these iPhone sites or would happen to go by an Apple store.
  2. All remaining points depend on these statements: Unlocking iPhones does not brick the phone. Installing hacked apps does not brick the phone. Installing the Apple 1.1.1 update bricks the phone.
  3. iTunes has the ability to downgrade firmware, but it does not do so successfuly for 1.1.1 phones. Granted that the new update may brick phones, but leave people no remedy to get their $400 investments up and running again? It's malicious intent which disregards the consumer investment, as well as removes responsibility from Apple even though they are responsible for writing code that has bricked a phone.
  4. Apple feels that it is under no obligation to respect its warranty for UNRELATED HARDWARE MATTERS if the Phone is hacked or unlocked. This is totally illegal, especially since THERE IS ZERO PROOF THAT UNLOCKING OR HACKING DAMAGES THESE UNRELATED HARDWARE COMPONENTS OF AN iPhone.
I think all Apple would need to do is provide:
  • A means to downgrade the phone from 1.0.2.
  • Respect the hardware warranty for issues such as touch screen issues and dead pixels, etc. (things that have NO CONNECTION TO HACKING OR UNLOCKING)
Your opinions please.

And for your information, I have an excellent 1.0.2 phone working great. I just feel for every person with a bricked 1.1.1, and don't feel the need to laugh at them and/or call them stupid like a lot of folks here enjoy doing.

I believe that all of us with iPhones belong to a community, and this idea can't really exist if we don't all share some degree of camaraderie.

And before you go off on your legality schmear, I'd like to say that every bit of corporate exploitation (20-hour work days, lack of minimum wage, gender discrimination) was legal until someone stood up to fight it.
 

tdefriez

New Member
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Jul 2, 2007
139
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#2
Only one thing

I agree with your statements baring one comment - The US courts have declared that unlocking your phone is legal - if you prevent this you are preventing fair use of the phone (see numerous posts on this and if you want to the original ruling). Apple has infringed the rights of the user here particularly if the re-locking was intentional (it will make a interesting legal challenge to prove this). We have the right to unlock an phone including an iPhone provided we are making no commercial gain out of it (that is we are not selling the method or unlocked phones for a profit).

I would gained nothing from unlocking my iPhone (still using AT&T, only unlocked for international travel - would not carry phone abroad if unlocked) if fact now I could make a loss due to this action.

It also raises the question of if they went too far with this approach to relocking unlocked phones.
 

ciaran00

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Jul 21, 2007
242
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#3
tdefriez, so even if it is argued that RELOCKING the phone is legal and ok (it probably is), it doesn't apply to 1.1.1. Apple is not just relocking the Phone, it is bricking it. That means if someone does agree that they should switch back to AT&T, they don't have the option. They can't use the phone period.

They are unable to use the phone even though:
  • They are doing something perfectly legal with it (unlocking)
  • They are using the iTunes software meant to be used with the iPhone in a manner in which iTunes is intended (default settings)
And if they happen to make the mistake of doing the two things above:
  • Apple offers neither a remedy for the person to switch back to a firmware where their phone would be operational
  • Apple voids the HARDWARE warranty completely for a SOFTWARE reason.
This must be illegal. It is not explicitly illegal now, but I can't imagine why any consumer-centric system would put up with it.

Also, I would have to think that monopoly laws would have to start applying. Why? Not because Apple has cornered the cell phone market (it hasn't... iPhone isn't even a blip in the cell phone market radar), but because they've aligned with AT&T which DOES happen to have cornered the GSM market in the US. These two companies combined happen to be a compelling and rather overwhelming threat to consumer rights, because they really don't have to care (due to sheer combined market segment share).

I would be surprised if Europe puts up with it at all...
 

wildonrio

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Jul 4, 2007
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Provo, UT
#4
Ok so someone tell me, if preventing users from unlocking phones is, as stated here, illegal, then why aren't we taking action against Apple for trying to prevent it? Apple must know something that we don't or their legal department would have stopped them from making 1.1.1 so destructive to unlocked phones.
 

ciaran00

New Member
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Jul 21, 2007
242
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#5
Once again, preventing users from unlocking is not the issue. Please don't get distracted :)
  • Bricking people's phones because they've unlocked it and
  • have used iTunes AS INTENDED BY APPLE, and
  • then refusing to honor the warranty to fix something their software has done (bricking by 1.1.1)
... is what should be illegal.

As far as I'm concerned, they can prevent all they want. Hell, FORCE people to choose AT&T again, if they want to. But that's not what's happened. They've DESTROYED unlocked phones such that they don't work again.

And just because a company with a legal department does it doesn't mean what they're doing is legal. There are plenty of examples of class action proving exactly that being not true.
 

wildonrio

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Jul 4, 2007
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#6
Once again, preventing users from unlocking is not the issue. Please don't get distracted :)
  • Bricking people's phones because they've unlocked it and
  • have used iTunes AS INTENDED BY APPLE, and
  • then refusing to honor the warranty to fix something their software has done (bricking by 1.1.1)
... is what should be illegal.

As far as I'm concerned, they can prevent all they want. Hell, FORCE people to choose AT&T again, if they want to. But that's not what's happened. They've DESTROYED unlocked phones such that they don't work again.

And just because a company with a legal department does it doesn't mean what they're doing is legal. There are plenty of examples of class action proving exactly that being not true.
Preventing someone from unlocking their phone is already illegal. Now purposely breaking someone's phone who has unlocked seems beyond illegal.

But can't Apple just say that, "We redesigned our firmware and it just so "happens" to not work with unlocked phones to the point of breaking them. We can't be help responsible for supporting compatibility of our firmware with unlocked phones. You're all lucky that we discovered incompatibility and warned you about it before you updated. Aren't we nice?"
 

ciaran00

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Jul 21, 2007
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#7
Yeah, but that warning is insufficient. I would think Apple would have to:
  • Provide iTunes installation such that by default it does not do updates
  • Paste a massive warning whenever the restore button is hit -OR-
  • Make shift+restore be the default restore
Since they've failed to do this so far they would:
  • provide a downgrade option -or-
  • honor the hardware warranty they are responsible for
I think we need to constantly stress the fact that it's Apple software that's bricked these phones, not the unlock, and not AppTapp or hacked applications.

Apple cannot be absolved of the effect of their own software on the hardware they are meant to provide a warranty to. This means that they are FREE TO DESIGN ANY SOFTWARE THAT RIDS THEM OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF REPLACING BAD HARDWARE. This is how the mafia works, people.
 

wildonrio

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Jul 4, 2007
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#9
Yeah, but that warning is insufficient. I would think Apple would have to:
  • Provide iTunes installation such that by default it does not do updates
  • Paste a massive warning whenever the restore button is hit -OR-
  • Make shift+restore be the default restore
Since they've failed to do this so far they would:
  • provide a downgrade option -or-
  • honor the hardware warranty they are responsible for
I think we need to constantly stress the fact that it's Apple software that's bricked these phones, not the unlock, and not AppTapp or hacked applications.

Apple cannot be absolved of the effect of their own software on the hardware they are meant to provide a warranty to. This means that they are FREE TO DESIGN ANY SOFTWARE THAT RIDS THEM OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF REPLACING BAD HARDWARE. This is how the mafia works, people.
I have actually heard that despite Apple's warnings, updating to 1.1.1 does not "brick" any phone. It just permanently prevents the phone from running third party apps and using other carriers. Have you heard otherwise or are you basing your OP solely on Apple's disclaimer displayed before you update to 1.1.1?
 

ciaran00

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Jul 21, 2007
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#11
I have actually heard that despite Apple's warnings, updating to 1.1.1 does not "brick" any phone. It just permanently prevents the phone from running third party apps and using other carriers. Have you heard otherwise or are you basing your OP solely on Apple's disclaimer displayed before you update to 1.1.1?
An unlocked phone doesn't work with its original AT&T sim. An unlocked phone will not work period.

The only unconfirmed exception seems to be iPhones unlocked with iPhonesimfree method. The IPSF unlocked phones will be able to use the original AT&T sim (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

All other unlocked phones are bricks. If their owners wanted to repent and switch to AT&T, they couldn't. If they wanted Apple to replace their phones, Apple wouldn't...

This isn't Apple protecting its deal with AT&T or protecting its intellectual property. It's vandalism.
 

listenclose

New Member
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Jan 12, 2007
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#12
An unlocked phone doesn't work with its original AT&T sim. An unlocked phone will not work period.

The only unconfirmed exception seems to be iPhones unlocked with iPhonesimfree method. The IPSF unlocked phones will be able to use the original AT&T sim (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

All other unlocked phones are bricks. If their owners wanted to repent and switch to AT&T, they couldn't. If they wanted Apple to replace their phones, Apple wouldn't...

This isn't Apple protecting its deal with AT&T or protecting its intellectual property. It's vandalism.
I agree. Sue!
 

tdefriez

New Member
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Jul 2, 2007
139
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#13
Actually

A 'bricked' iPhone still works after being 'upgraded' it just it no longer works as a phone any more - basically it was sold as a phone and it no longer works as a phone. Most of he Apple parts of it still work. I suspect this will be one line Apple will use if you go after them based on the device being a brick - and they will add they did the killing the unlock under AT&T pressure.

At the end of the day the question is does anyone have the money to start a class action and if they do is it legally better to chase the 'illegal to prevent the unlock", the illegal to brick the phone (stop it working as a phone at all) or some other legal line. We need the money and a lawyer (not necessarily in that order).

PS: T-Mobile may pay for another iPhone for me - just got notified of a class action settlement based on data service issues (worth about $300)
 

ciaran00

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Jul 21, 2007
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#15
Which reminds me... another temporary remedy for anyone on a different service, if they started new service, is cash in on the free phone for the new carrier. Use it until some remedy is found for your trashed iPhone.

Hey, tdefriez, got more info about the Tmobile lawsuit, like a link we could check out?
 

tdefriez

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Jul 2, 2007
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#16
Got a letter in the mail Saturday.

Where did you hear about this?
I assume T-Mobile had to supply details of all data users - relates to data users for 2000 till 2003 only (T-zones only timeframe):)

The family plan has been on T-Mobile since they launched in US :) - I've always had data service on this (Blackberry, Windows Mobile PDA phones) - only switched to AT&T due to iPhone (family plan still with T-Mobile hence I have both AT&T and T-Mobile SIM's). The letter relates to a class action settlement with respect to the data services I had (not read the whole letter yet to much legal stuff, but it is clearly related to a settlement not a pending class action) - once they pay out (expected to be $300) then it will pay a large chunk towards a new iPhone if a fix cannot be found for the 'brick' effect. :cool:Note still have iPhone unlocked and on 1.0.2 but not certain we can trust Apple not to wreak this in someway.

As I can from WIndows mobile device 3rd party application to me are a must - this web based approach sucks (no Edge no apps).
 

Hawk

Genius
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Aug 2, 2007
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#17
well, all this talk of lawsuits and such is just fine and dandy, but the big point of the matter is proving that Apple deliberately bricked phones that owners unlocked. The third party apps issue is something entirely different, and as close as I can tell, fully within Apple's right to lock down.
Now I hope that it will be like the PSP where no matter what the encryption, it still gets hacked and free apps remain available, but that's neither here nor there. The real issue remains that if someone unlocked their phone and updated the firmware, then they now own a brick.
For those that aren't grasping the concept, it means that NOTHING on the phone can be accessed, NOTHING can be used.
Now, while technically there were warnings, I agree that they were not sufficient for all users, PLUS I cannot understand HOW a firmware update would affect the phone as a whole. Personally, I believe it to be deliberate, using the warning statement as their security blanket in case people actually decide to file suit.

So now the real task at hand is for the hackers that made the iPhone so much better than it was to take a 1.0.2 phone and a 1.1.1 phone and see what the firmware did. If they can show that Apple's code did indeed look for unlocked phones and shut them down, well, then Apple is going to be bankrupt when a class action suit is filed on behalf of all 1 million + owners against them and they win, showing that Apple purposefully locked out the phone from being unlocked and damaged all the already unlocked phones.
I give it a month before we see any headway in this direction. But if/when it hits, be ready.
 

guest 5

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Jul 5, 2007
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#18
Apple not intentionally bricking phones

From what I have read in the past here and statements from Apple, it appears that Apple is intentionally bricking phones because they were not functional after the 1.1.1 update. But, Apple had made statements in the past with regards to hacking, unlocking, etc., which stated that they will not guarantee that any future software patches, etc. would be compatible with everything not supported on the user's iPhone, thus if it doesn't work after an update something that the user did to the phone would prevent the update from taking properly. So, in effect, it could possibly be proved that people that have hacked, or unlocked phones had incompatible software running on their phone before the update was installed, thus bricking the phone.