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Cell Phone Unlocking in the USA Essay

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Updated: May 14th, 2022

Introduction

Phone unlocking is now a thing of the past in the United States of America. This has been championed by both the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office. It has since become law and encrypted in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This new law prohibits all mobile phone users from unlocking their phones in a bid to continue using them once they are locked by their corresponding networks or carriers.

In the past, phone users could freely corrupt their phones that were designed to function on only one carrier so that they could accept new SIM cards (Joanna, 1). This was also done to enable such phones to access data networks that did not necessarily belong to their carrier. This malpractice was done through a software process that bypassed the numerous protocols designed to limit a phone to only one carrier. The process is called ‘phone unlocking’.

However, the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has scrapped this malpractice completely. This is an implication that phone unlocking is now observed as a criminal offense in the USA. The law was enacted not to deter people from doing whatever they wanted with their cell phones but to counter copyright infringement. This is a situation whereby cell phone users get to use their devices for purposes not intended for them. Mobile phone carriers normally contract their subscribers by giving them phones at discounted or subsidized rates as a way to be sure of their allegiance. However, unscrupulous people take advantage of this (Joanna, 1). They unlock the phones and resell them expensively. They sometimes use the same phones with some overseas carriers and take advantage of the local rates while abroad.

The USA cellular carriers are the beneficiaries of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Today, the law ensures that customers are loyal to their cellular carriers once they subscribe to them. If one needs to migrate to another mobile network, he or she is compelled to purchase another device and never uses a device meant for another network. They are forced to buy cell phones that are already unlocked. Since the enactment of this law, cellular carriers have benefited wholesomely. This is because people dare not risk facing punishment after unlocking their phones.

Violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is punishable by law (Wilbur, 21). One is punishable with a lawsuit if he or she attempts to or unlocks a phone. If the infringement of this law was done for commercial gain, it is considered a criminal act and is associated with grave consequences. A carrier is allowed by the law to sue such a perpetrator for statutory damages or even actual damages. The punishment for a person or civil offense is normally a fine of not more than $2,500. This is usually imposed after a court procedure and presentation of viable evidence of the committed offense. On the other hand, as for criminal offenses or those intending to gain from phone-unlocking like cell phone resellers, the fine imposed could be over $500,000. Additionally, this includes imprisonment (Wilbur, 13).

Conclusion

The illegalization of cell phone unlocking has played a significant role in ensuring that copyright products are protected. Even though the law that defends this right is to be revised soon, it should not leave loopholes for the continuation of this crime. Cellular carriers need as much protection by the law as any other commercial organization.

Works Cited

Joanna, Stern. “Starting today, it is illegal to unlock your cellphone.” ABC News. 2013. Web.

Wilbur, Marcia. Dmca: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2000. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Cell Phone Unlocking in the USA." May 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cell-phone-unlocking-in-the-usa/.


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IvyPanda. 2022. "Cell Phone Unlocking in the USA." May 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cell-phone-unlocking-in-the-usa/.

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