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DMCA update shuts down new phone unlocking next year, allows rooting (but not for tablets)

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
October 26, 2012
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And so it passed that Congress didst layeth its blessing on the jailbreaking and rooting of all manner of devices; the hacking community saw the miracle and rejoiced. But that amendment to the DMCA two years ago was just a temporary exemption and the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been vigorously lobbying to get it reinstated. The Library of Congress has now done just that through a new three year extension, but with some serious caveats: After 90 days, unlocking of new phones will be verboten and all tablet mods will still be illegal. This differs from the 2010 decision which did allow unlocking, because the Librarian decided that a recent copyright ruling means fair use rules no longer apply to a handset's OS. It also said the exception isn't needed anymore because carrier rules regarding unlocking are now more liberal -- although the lawmaker may be confounding chicken with egg by that reasoning.

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