iPhone Hack

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In the best hacking tradition, seems like a group called iPhone Sim Free succeeded in developing a software hack to allow Apple’s iPhone to use any network. While the software hack is not yet available, the proof can be seen HERE.

While details are still a bit sketchy, I don’t doubt that this will become more widespread shortly – how those interested in obtaining the hack can get it is as of this date is unknown.

Apple has yet to respond to this, but it does make one wonder how they might respond. Apple is notorious for keeping their hardware and software very close to the vest, and this hack is a direct assault on the fortress. Already there are some musings about copyright violations and the like, so this may get interesting.

This brings up a very murky legal area – once you buy something like an iPhone and then hack it, where do you stand legally?

So far it appears that as long as nothing nefarious is going on, you’re OK to hack – a couple come to mind, such as the Promise RAID card and the CVS One-Time Camcorder hacks, which were well known and wide-spread. I have software (Anapod Explorer) which enables me to use my iPod in ways that Apple did not intend – it’s still available and as far as I know, legally not an issue.

Personally I come down squarely in the “It’s mine so buzz off” camp – how Apple responds could be interesting and might plow some new legal ground – and not necessarily in the consumer’s favor.

UPDATE

Well it didn’t take long for Apple and AT&T to mount a legal challenge to the iPhone hackers. According to this article, AT&T’s attorneys contacted John McLaughlin of UniquePhones in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who “…had planned to release software Saturday that would allow users to unlock their iPhones.” Early Saturday morning the AT&T attorney informed him that he could be sued for copyright infringement.

While an individual can legally hack his own phone, the grey area relates to those who would sell or even distribute for free unlocking software. There is a precedent for a successful legal challenge when movie studios successfully sued website operators for distributing the DeCSS DVD-copying code.

In any event, for an individual or small under-capitalized group to pursue a legal defense will cost a LOT of money – AT&T’s pockets are a LOT deeper and the perceived stakes on their part will let loose an overwhelming legal corps.

Overall, a predictable response.

Email Joe

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