On 25th August, at approximately 2:54 a.m. (GMT) uniquephones.com a company based in Ireland, “received a telephone call from a Menlo Park, California, law firm on behalf of AT&T. The law firm presented issues such as copyright infringement and illegal software dissemination”. The call originated after Uniquephones published a software program to unlock Apple’s iPhone, which is locked on AT&T’s SIM card. Unlocking a cellphone means that it will be free to use every service provider in the world, and any SIM card. Of course AT&T may not be pleased that through this company’s services whomever may buy an iPhone in the US and then use it in the UK with another provider.
What is interesting in this story is:
- Some companies still believe they can really tie the world to just one product; cellphone companies, in particular are known for not offering the best service… so customers would like to be able to choose; (by the way, Apple succeeded to do so with its Macintosh and iPod, but these are products of such high value -for their quality and uniqueness-, that people are willing to forget they are closed products);
- Some people believe that one country’s rule of the land applies to everybody in the world. Uniquephones may not even be legally liable in the US, but if it were, would it also be liable in Ireland, where the company is based? This is a situation similar to that of allofmp3.com, the Russian company selling mp3’s over the Internet which was sued by US record companies on the basis of copyright infringement. A Moscow court just ruled that out, stating allmp3.com has not violated any Russian (of course!) copyright law.