EFF: Let's "Free Your Phone"

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started a new campaign which, if things were to work out the way EFF and consumers would like, could result in an exemption to the DMCA so users could legally unlock their cell phones.

The campaign, called "Free Your Phone," asks consumers to sign the EFF's petition to the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption, as well as asking consumers to share their stories about locked cell phone frustrations. As the EFF says, rather than protecting copyrighted material, the locks instituted by cell phone manufacturers and carriers are built less for protection of copyrighted material , and more to protect their business models.

No, really?

Every three years, the U.S. Copyright Office convenes to consider exemptions to the DMCA's ban on circumvention of "technical protection measures." The EFF has already filed exemption requests with the Copyright Office, but the U.S. Copyright Office also accepts public comments.

In a press release, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann said:
"Apple locks its iPhone to AT&T and prevents users from installing any software that has not been pre-approved by Apple. Consumers need a DMCA exemption to lift the cloud of legal risk that otherwise serves only to reduce competition and consumer choice."
EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick said:
"Companies are using the DMCA to threaten customers out of exercising their consumer rights. The Copyright Office needs to hear real stories about how these software locks frustrate consumers and developers."
The deadline for public comment is February 2nd, with the U.S. Copyright Office scheduled to hold hearings in Washington, D.C. and California in the Spring. A final decision will be issued in October.

Don't hold your breath, though.