back to article Apple sued over i-Bricks

Apple's breaking of iPhones that had been hacked is now the subject of a lawsuit, which claims the controversial tactic violates California laws governing antitrust and fair business practices. The complaint (PDF), which seeks class-action status, was filed Friday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, just a short drive from …

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Jobs Horns

Missing the point...

It should be illegal to lock phones in the first place, not illegal to "brick" phones that have been unlocked. Apple should not have to support third party hacks to their phone and there will be far to many to support anyway. If the phone was an open platform to start with, then liability would be clear.

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Jobs Horns

Er...

Hm, sounds like a hard one to me, but I don't know that much... How will the customer prove that Apple deliberately bricked the phones? Apple can always say that software is complicated, blah, blah, and that they can't be responsible for mods they didn't make -- and didn't approve of to begin with. No?

Or will the judge tell Apple to open the code to a bunch of "experts" (maybe under NDA) from both defense and prosecution, for them to try and show one way or the other whether the update purposefully "broke" the phones or whether it was collateral damage?

Ah, whatever. I don't have one (and don't want either) anyway... :O)

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Re: Er...

I think the fact that Apple said they were going to do it kinda wrecks the 'we didn't do it on purpose' defence.

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They Bricked IPod shuffles a while back too

iTunes 7 locked up 1st generation shuffles. Both my friend and myslef both lost our shuffles on the same day. The internet is full of user groups of people trying to get it to work again. Have not seen a class action lawsuit over that one.

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Coat

@Er....

Nice hypothesis - but your coming from an IT standpoint, bear in mind the judge won't have a smegging clue how software works - it could easily work in favour or against depending on which side of the coin the judge picks to support =D

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Jobs Horns

On Purpose

didn't the update "mark" somehow the IMEI of hacked iPhones so people could not bring them to the Apple Store? This could not have been an accident or a simple incompatibility...

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Thumb Down

Won't work

Its impossible for a company to release updates that are guaranteed compatible with random 3rd party hacks.

It two groups can't work on the same piece of code without careful coordination of their efforts in very careful ways.

Apple would have to track down each hack and develop, test and deploy a unique update tailored to be compatible with each unauthorized modification.

If a law required that, it would effectively prevent any company from ever releasing a update for anything.

---

Also the fact that unlocking the iPhone might not be illegal has nothing to do with the voiding of the warranty.

Its legal for me to beat an iPhone with a hammer, does that mean Apple is infringing my legal right to do so if they refuse to fit it afterwards?

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Narrow Minded

Apple seems to have forgotten that the main reason that they have such as small share in the PC market stems from their original misconceived plan that it was to be a closed platform limited to Apple software and Apple peripherals.

Likewise with their iPhone - it appears to be a good product with some very nice features and sets the trend for the new/next generation; however I can't consider one because I demand the right to choose my service provider. Otherwise I might have (might yet if they improve their marketing concepts) considered a purchase.

Wake up Apple - don't try to choose your customers. Better to let them want to choose you instead - you have the right hardware.

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the update

I think if the update didn't improve the software on the phones it didn't brick it's pretty obvious you can't just shit out real improvements as a pretext for bricking it's too difficult I think there is an insane amount of money riding on their ability to keep the iphone locked down

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Mat

Not the biggest Apple fan but....

I have no sympathy for people whose iphones are bricked. If they were crazy enough to buy a phone that was tied into AT&T and then, even after the reports that an update could brick a hacked phone, proceed to hack it. Tough shit!

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Paris Hilton

One point...

Although it would be difficult to prove that apple intentionally bricked the phone, the point I think they are going for is they released an update to specifically ( amongst other "features" ) re-lock the phone, whether it was to actually relock the phone or brick it is debatable.

Therefore they do have a reasonable case, they are fighting against Apple not playing fair to consumers and other operators as such as per californian law. not whether they intentionally damaged phones.

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Dead Vulture

Hmm...

It will be interesting to see what happens over this. If indeed there is a 'right' to be able to run any phone unlocked then perhaps there is an argument that since Apple do not offer such a service, a third party solution is the only alternative.

If Apple have deliberately set out to stop this then i guess there could be something in it, or perhaps it could be a test case where all phones need to be unlocked or the option being offered.

I would consider an iPhone if it was in the open market like other phones, not tied to one network and having to pay out for the phone and an expensive contract. Well, the SE W960i is out soon anyway......

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Dead Vulture

String um up!

Those of you saying they diserve it, why? Apple delibiratly bricked (Or did somthing they knew would brick) the phones. If a third party app did it, and Apple said "were not fixing that" fine, but it didnt. It was Apple. They knew what they were doing.

Why should people not be alowd to unlock there phones? Greed, thats all. The phone is subsidised, but only from the contract. It just so happens that Apple then get money from AT&T for all call charges. Nokia don't et al, so dont give a Flying F*** if you unlock you phone, and nither do the networks, because they have there contract money in, so they have broken even (In theory)

I hope Apple lose, and lose big time. Apple are going down the tubes, one crap device at a time. There products are no longer cool, or the clever choice.

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No sympathy

I have no sympathy simply because they were too stupid to realise that it was a waste of money in the first place. People buy a phone which they KNOW is tied to a particular network and that they will HAVE to hack to make it work elsewhere and then are somehow surprised when the hacks break their I-Bricks?

Despite the fact that the I-Phone is overrated and overpriced (as with most Apple products) they still bought it, then hacked it. Why not just get a decent phone that doesn't need to be hacked to use on a different network? (Nokia N95 for example has almost all the same abilities as an I-Brick without the Apple ties)

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Dead Vulture

Smell the cheese....

I think if Apple are to survive they will have to be more customer focused as Nokia has shown - no matter how good the product you only cause yourself problems when you try to force hardware and software on consumers in a package and remove any decision. The iPhone is failing spectacularly as providers have closed ranks.

Yes, Apple have stopped their pc's evolving through the same tacticts.

Yes, People who took on the phones new what they were getting into.

Yes, Phones are subsidised through the AT&T network.

But, breaking phones intentionally is not the way. This is nothing more than a display of arrogance and probably hurt the product as well as the brand. I was thinking of getting one but no more - not that it was my intention to have it unlocked but having the option would have been nice.

I wonder if Apple and Orange are related on some level as both organisations appear to hold the consumers in contempt?

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Jobs Horns

Will this lawsuit

address the issue of what happens to all those customers who do not hack their phone when the original contract runs out? According to the law in the UK and I think it is the same in the US, the consumer has to have a choice. After the contract ends will Apple provide an update allowing it to be used on any network or tell the gullible idiot fanboys take out a new contract or you can't use your phone anymore?

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Jobs Halo

Counter sue! Are there no Blasphemy laws? Surely this was an "act of Jobs"

If the court can force Apple to reveal its code and its function, they could determine if the "upgrade" was specifically designed to punish sinners.

If it's illegal to tie users to a supplier then Apple were quite upfront with their "unlawful" intentions before the iPhone ever reached the shops.

My mobile phone "ties" me into a contract by making me pay a year's (or was it 18 month's) so-called "line rental" up front. Of course I can switch suppliers but I lose my money. Would such a contract be illegal in California? Should Apple and AT'n'T have taken that route instead?

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Who cares...?

My Windows Mobile device works on any network. I just swap the SIM.

Hehe

Craig

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Gates Halo

The answer is

The answer is the open source "Openmoko" pure and simple !

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Dead Vulture

A Way Out

Apple could always offer the flash the brick back to factory defaults option for a small charge. Then these people who hacked their phones (Voiding Warranty) would at least be able to have an operational phone back. Otherwise the bucket of water & claim on the insurance claiming the toddler dropped it in the toilet might work lol.

Locking to a network is a pain we in the EU do not really have to worry about.

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RE: Missing The Point....

Wrong :)

I should be able to choose what network I want to run my Mobile Phone Device on and to choose the best network that suits me, not apple.

Unlocking should NOT be illegal in anyway, it's our right to find the best for us. We don't have to support the company, we have to support ourselves.

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Anonymous Coward

It's simple. Don't use the stuff.

Don't buy hardware that has such restrictive bullshit tied into it.

If you dont' support it, it won't become popular and therefore they won't be tempted to try the same tactic again.

I haven't found a good reason to buy an iPhone yet, and I do like gadgets.

I think Apple deserves spanking by its customers for treating them like crap however-as folks buy stuff to use and Apple decides to act like an asshole just to keep the old backhander relationship going with AT&T. Vote with your feet, use anything else instead.

Just a viewpoint :-). I'm sure there are Apple diehards who'll take anything Apple delivers as gospel.

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Why are people so stupid?

I really hope this fails and costs this guy a lot of money.

He really couldn't have been in any doubt that the iPhone was locked to a single carrier. Therefore if he wanted something to work on a different carrier he should have bought something else. If he thought that locking the phone to a particular carrier was illegal under the DMCA, then the lawsuit should have been brought before he bought the product.

Apple warned people that their forthcoming update could cause problems for people who had hacked their phones. To me this seems fair enough - at least people who had hacked their phones were given warning and therefore could choose not to update. If you've hacked a product you can't really expect support from the original manufacturer any more - you need to turn to the hacking community for that support. Unfortunately they don't provide warranties.

This guy really should grow up and stop whingeing.

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Anonymous Coward

No, the "don't feel sorry" lot miss the point

The last time I had a device in my hand that could suffer physical damage via software was 20years ago - a Psion Organiser II. And you had to be damn good to make the condition appear.

The problem is the PERMANENT damage to the phone. If the phones would have simply done a 'back to basics' reset (i.e. undone the software hack) that would have been fine - alternatively, some support to get to that stage would also be good.

However, the problem is here that (a) software hacks were deliberately targeted (I'll come back to that) and (b) also some NON-HACKED phones suffered damage. With respect to (a), this is going to be interesting for Apple to defend, because their bundling is illegal in the EU which means they will have to choose between foregoing that market altogether or providing proof that (a) was deliberate. There is no in-between option, no weaselling out, so I think they screwed up.

I'm OK with the fact that unlockers got their fingers burned, even though I disagree with how Apple is trying to eat from every market possible they can do so, those unlockers knew what they were facing (it's not like it wasn't public knowledge).

However, to permanently wreck the devices is not on so I hope they get trounced in the class action suit.

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Not a chance

Gotta love America.. lets sue over this..

Why?

Why not!?

Blimey, get over it, they said they were going to do it, they did it, you updated your phone and it no longer works.... they should sue you for being utterly, utterly stupid.

I'd also hardly say that Apple have such a small share of the PC market, they are the 3rd largest in the US and the only one growing on a large scale, whereas worldwide they're 4th:

HP 16.3%

Dell 16.1%

Lenovo 7.5%

Apple 5.9%

Toshiba 4.3%

(From: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/06/10/18/apples_share_of_us_pc_market_jumps_to_61_percent.html)

And that was 12 months ago, and lets be honest they've had a massive year again this year...

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@Astarte

I think you're missing the point. Apple are well aware that they have a small share as a result of locking things down, and it doesn't bother them as much as the reduced stability of "open" systems.

Apple seem to be more interested in providing a "good" service to fewer people - one of the biggest reasons for instabilities in Windows is that it's not a well defined platform - it's also the reason that I need to go hunting for a floppy disk and install CDs to get my PC working when I do reinstall (floppy for SATA RAID, install media for network card).

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Jobs Horns

Re: Not the biggest Apple fan but....

I agree.

The reason? Well, it's not because I like apple, I'll probably never buy one of their products. The reason is -- these people bought phones knowing full well that Apple tied them down, and could do this if they wanted. This "bricking" of Apple phones just punishes the stupid for thinking they're clever.

Caveat Emptor...

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Jobs Horns

locking and briking

OK

I understand the business case for locking handsets to a network when they are subsidised BUT there should be a law against locking handsets when the customer has paid full retail price.

WTF are Apple surprised that people are hacking their IPhone if they participate in anti-competitive practices, frankly, they should be flattered that anyone WANTS to buy their overpiced Ipod with phone.

I for one don't want one and would not pay the kind of price Apple wants for it.

I spent nearly as much on an unlocked Moto V600 a couple of years ago and it turned out to be a complete POS.

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How quickly some people forget.

When Steve W and Steve J launched the Apple II back in the 70's they included in the box the Apple Reference Manual. This included complete circuit diagrams of the PC, ROM listings, details on memory and hardware configurations.. pretty much everything. It was the bible on how the Apple was made and worked.

Other companies were able to write software, design hardware (don't forget it had expansion slots). The Apple II went on to be one of the most successful computers of all time. It could do anything!

Alas, I suspect a lot of the ethos from that era came from Steve Wozniak.

Go on Stevie J. Let other people play with your new toy. For old times sake.

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Coat

About time...

I wondered how long it would take this lawsuit to come along, and quite honestly, it's about time. Apple have basically it seems, deliberately and maliciously caused harm to these devices. Isn't that unlawful damage? Vandalism on a corporate scale?

If Apple had allowed the networks to subsidise the cost of the phone, then this would be a different matter. You can't have it both ways though Apple.. you can't have your apple pie and eat it...

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Who's forcing who?

I wasn't aware that people were forced into buying iPhones not knowing that they'd be stuck with Apple's terms and conditions.

It's the users' choice to buy into Apple's stupid business practice. I don't see this getting anywhere...

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Narrow Minded

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Everybody who comes into my office gazes appreciatively over my nice Mac Pro and 30" setup, but they wouldn't touch it with a bargepole because of the FUD that comes with getting involved with Apple products.

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Anonymous Coward

Fan Boys, where are you now?

Funny isn't it? When Apple show their true colours the fan boys evaporate.

It's your choice; Microsoft/Open Source with all of the attendant problems, or Apple who KNOW you are stupid enough to take what they give you. Spend your money wisely and accept the consequences of your mistakes.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: A Way Out

Flashing back to defaults; totally agree.

Network locking in the EU; I don't get you. We have the same laws in the EU (under different guise) that this case is about, but the iPhone is still going to be locked to our respective carriers.

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Paris Hilton

Fruity

apples, bricks, pears and oranges .... couldn't give a fig!

seems quite simple, you get a subsidised phone for the duration of a contract. At the end of said contract, said phone should work with any carrier.

If you don't like that, don't sign said contract.

nuff said.

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No Sympathy

Whether you believe that the phone should be unlocked, or stay locked, that's not your choice. It's the choice of whoever makes the product. I'm no Apple nut, but I do believe that it's the people that make and design products who should have the say in who does or doesn't get to mess with it (law permitting).

Of course, if you don't agree with that, you can always exercise your consumer rights by not buying it in the first place, and spending your money on a product that lets you do that sort of thing.

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re: Re: Er... and re: They Bricked IPod shuffles a while back too

What, by advising customers that if they have an unlocked phone and install the non-compulsorary update, the phone may be bricked?

By your reckoning, If you tell a kid not to do something because something bad might happen and they do it, you're at fault becuase you issued a warning that it's not a good idea.

re: shuffle - absolutley balderdash. Mine works fine - and there has been barely a whisper about this on the Mac forums... kinda of odd as they're full of all sort of bleating.

Even if this was true, which it's not, it's hardly the same thing as the iPhone fiasco.

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Thumb Down

re: Fan Boys, where are you now?

Jesus, have you ever been to a Mac forum?

Ever since the iPhone was launched there has been plenty (I would say overwhelmingly) negative opinion on Apple forumd - some of this crticism display the same insight as your own post (yup, some is that bad) but some is spot on.

Apple is a company, you idiot. It doesn't have any colours. Its purpose is to make money - only those sharing your level of intelligence would say otherwise, fanboy or not.

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Gates Horns

Customers own fault!

I'm not an Apple fan at all. Frankly their politics are stupid and the Mac has become nothing more than a PC with an alternative OS on it. Apple has never been good at anything than design and marketing.

Now, about bricking the iPhone. I think it's the customers own fault. Microsoft locked Linux out on the XBox with an update. Noone really complained. Also, try returning a DVD-ROM drive that's been modded to region free with a third party firmware hack downloaded from some questionable site on the internet. LG will laugh at you if you tell them your drive doesn't work because you altered the firmware.

Indeed, if you're dumb enough to buy an iPhone, you deserve what you get.

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Gates Halo

Whatever...

Wouldn't of happened if you had a Smartphone and an IPod, the only people I know who use their phones for music are dicks who feel you have to listen to it as well, I really don't get the point of an iPhone.

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Gates Horns

I laugh at you all with your silly fruit-machine things

You were stupid enough to buy it despite the ridiculously high price and lack of any real innovation.

You were stupid enough to hack it despite the contract and disclaimers you had signed.

Now that your silly iPhone is broken you want to be protected from the Satan that Apple has revealed itself to be.

Well, all I can say is "Burn, Suckers!" <LOL>

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Coat

if crApple bricked your iPhone, at least you can blend it....

...and yes, it blends...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI

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Oh dear oh dear...

here's what i believe has gone on....

apple produce the iPhone... get lots of money from AT&T to keep it exclusive to them...

What is the best way of protecting that income?

They have made people afraid to hack the firmware... who realistically is going to go out in the next couple of months, buy a iphone and hack the firmware? who is ever going to do it now that they know they could end up with a brick.

I would not even be surprised if the hacker group that developed the hack was funded by apple.. not only that, how much money had they made from the hack?

I was always a bit suspicious about the way they sold the hack. lots of little back street shops who deal in unlocking phones will have a big stack of licenses for unlocking iphones they will probably never sell now..

if the hack altered the part of the firmware which uploads the firmware, then i can understand how the product was made into a brick...if not, then apples firmware update must contain malicious code.

anyway, is it not common practice for a base version of firmware to be held in ROM to replace the existing firmware if it became corrupt? the cost of this would be minimal, and would in the long term cost less than shipping products back to base for a flash... you could also say that not having this feature is a design flaw,

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Coat

locked

It is illegal for a mobile telephone provider in Belguim to subsidize or lock a mobile handset to a network or country. Laws are different everywhere. Still, Apple ought to loose in court and be forced to open source the i-phone O/S :D I think the latter won't happen.

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Paris Hilton

Once bought then do what you want

Whats the point of selling a product and not allowing people to decide what they want and what they don't want. Apple should either apologies for being so anal or stop the production and selling of the iphone if they dont want anyone to mess around with it

As for the downloads there are has been several reports where users who have not unlocked their phones have found problems with missing contacts, pictures and locking up.

Kind Regards

Bob

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Gates Halo

erm

The phone's arnt bricked in the way most people keep talking about - the phones go into restricted mode aparently. So Apple are detecting the hack, and blocking phone features because of it!! So people saying Apple shouldn't support hacked firmwares are right, but it's not what is going on here - Apple are deliberatly blocking access to phone functions because they detected the hack, its completely different!

In any case - I would never buy into that sort of a contract. What amazes me is that people are suprised when a company disables their phone, when the company showed its colours in the first place by deliberatly rapeing them of tons of cash and locked them into a 2 year contract with a crappy network and blocks access to ligitimate developers?! lol.. nuts?!

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ha ha ha ha ha :-)

so apple customers finally turn?

the people who love apple - the people who think apple's sh*t doesn't stink - the people who laugh at the rest of the world for being bill gates "sheep" finally decide that they've been hard done by....

you bought a piece of overhyped underspec'd junk that has turned around and bitten you - you deserve everything you get...

go and buy a nokia - go and buy a htc - go and buy pretty much EVERY other phone...!!!! yet again, Apple's predisposition to believing that it can choose it's own customers mean it will never be anything other than a quirky little sidenote in the history books...

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Anonymous Coward

It's an Apple thing...

Us Mac "Fan-boys" are reading... and laughing at how much a lot of you guys don't get it.

It's great if you want to modify and update etc... but that's not why you buy an Apple product. You buy Apple because it works really well. Whether it's OS X to edit video and make music or, now, the iPhone to do all the fun stuff it can do, we sacrifice some functionality (and yes, even choice) for stability - and Apple products are stable, no doubt.

There are loads of Windows and Linux users who want to hack, and I think that's really cool, but Apple goes to great pains to keep control not just for financial reasons (some guy above takes much delight explaining why Apple "failed" on the desktop wars due to a locked down system, costing them billions), but because they truly believe that a (mostly) locked down system gives a better user experience. You guys may disagree, but there has to be (and sales indicate that there is) a market for these products (niche though it might be) and that is where Apple comfortably resides. I don't see the need for people to be so partisan - if you don't fancy an iPhone (contract and all), don't buy it (but I love mine).

I admit Apple are not perfect, but trust me when I say that if my computer was hooked up to a life support machine keeping me alive, I'd want it to be a Mac... or even an unmodified iPhone - it might cost me more money, but I fancy my chances of survival. :)

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Al
Paris Hilton

Is it illegal?

"It claims the restriction undermines an exemption the US Register of Copyrights made to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that specifically allows handset owners to tweak their devices so they work on competing cellular networks."

I'm by no means a legal expert. But my understanding of this is "You cannot be taken to court for breaking the DMCA if you unlock your handset".

Surely this is completely different to the proposed interpretation of "You have the God given right to modify your handset in any way you see fit. If anyone stops you from trying to do so, they are breaching your rights".

Furthermore, even if you have the right to unlock your handset, that doesn't say anything about whether Apple have to make it easy for you. You might have the right to make the change, but that doesn't take away anyone's ability to undo it.

It all seems a bit baffling to me though. Surely if you've signed up to an 18 month AT&T contract, what difference does it make if you connect it to another network? Presumably you're still tied to the AT&T contract and you're paying AT&T to use someone else's network bandwidth?

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Why sue Apple?

Instead of sue the people who bought the iPhone?

If somebody comes to me and says: "Hey.. You want to buy me this hiperhypedDevice locked, that can only do what i want when i want?", obviously i would not buy it... it could die of dust suffocation on the shop shelf.

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