In 2007, George Hotz circumvented the software lock on his iPhone that prevented him from using the device on a wireless network other than AT&T's. When oilier Phone purchasers similarly freed themselves from AT&T's service, Apple responded by using a software update to disable the altered iPhones. This back-and-forth between consumers and Apple raises two important questions: can consumers legally unlock their iPhones, and, if so, under what body of law? Although an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the "DMCA") appears to allow consumers to circumvent cell phone locks under copyright law, the regulation is of little practical use to consumers seeking to avoid AT&T's allegedly inferior service. Instead, they should challenge the underlying business arrangement between Apple and AT&T by arguing that tying the purchase of the iPhone to AT&T's service violates Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. This Note examines this argument and, in doing so, illuminates the limitations of the DMCA and demonstrates how it encourages content providers to engage in anticompetitive behavior.
Mark Defeo, Unlocking the iPhone: How Antitrust Law Can Save Consumers from the Inadequacies of Copyright Law, 49 B.C.L. Rev. 1037 (2008), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol49/iss4/3