I Am a Criminal

hands on barsShocking isn’t it.

But let me step back a second and explain.

According to the many terms and conditions (T&Cs) I’ve agreed to down the year I, and most likely you, are indulging in alleged criminal behaviour. Let me give you an example or two.

– Have you ever bought a CD and then copied t to tape or even your MP3 player? Yes. Then you’re a criminal.

– What about your iPhone / iTouch. Have you jailbroken it? Then yes, you’ve just broken the law again.

– Ever bought a DVD? Then ripped it to place on your media player? Guess what? … You’re a criminal.

But in reality, occasions like this are highly unlikely to get you arrested, let alone face a judge or fine. These are some of the many absurd ‘restrictions’ that companies place in their T&Cs.

But, I digress.

My main reason for this is to reveal that I ‘jailbroke’ my iPhone. There are any number of reasons I’ve done it but to obtain “pay for apps” for free is not one of them.

And here’s one of those reasons: WiCarrier.

Simply put, it displays the name of the WiFi network your iPhone / iTouch is connected too. Why is this so necessary when I can drop into settings and see the same name there? It isn’t but it does make life that one step easier and adds to my security at a glance that I am actually connected to the local coffee house’s network and not some hacker hotspot.

If you want this tweak then fire up your Cydia app and search it out – install and job done.

What about you?

Are you a criminal too?

I promise I won’t hold it against you.


13 Responses to “I Am a Criminal”

  1. May 9, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    I may be wrong but I always thought that having an mp3 of a song you already owned was covered by 'fair use'.

    I, for example, have mp3s of several 80s songs that I already have on vinyl up in my loft. I can't listen to them any more as I no longer have a record deck but I have paid for them.

    Should I have to pay twice to listen to the same song in a different format?
    My recent post Why You Need To Ensure That Your Company’s Database Is Secured From Two Types Of Threat

    • May 9, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

      Lee – you could well be right on the exact definition as I'm no lawyer ;)

      What I do know is that the music industry brands me a criminal for doing so; the film industry for copying my DVD's to a media player and Apple for me taking control of something I own.

      Should you have to pay twice – absolutely not, but it's what the MPIAA and RIAA want and believe we should do.

  2. ChurchTechGuy
    May 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Make no assumption, Fair Use is not what it sounds like. It has more to do with quoting and copying original works for the purpose of education and critiquing. It has nothing to do with copying for personal consumption.
    Copying your own CDs to an MP3 player falls in grey area. The law says "duplication and or distribution" as a way of covering all their bases. The intent is to stop illegal distribution. The act of copying is the method not the actual infringement. But then legalese is meant to blanket all in fancy wording.
    As for the iPhone. That's different. jailbreaking is again blanketed as bad because people could hack the OS and cause interference or disruption in the services of others on the wireless network. I don't like apple's walled-garden any more then the next person (my wife has an iPhone) but I kind of understand why Apple has done it. In the end you have violated the EULA which is a legally binding agreement just like when you bought a copy of OSX or Photoshop. Sorry, but there is no "it's mine" defense. You bought the hardware and the "right" to use the OS.
    Hope this doesn't the issue any more obscure then it already was.

    • May 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Peter – can anything make the law more or less obscure than a lawyer?

      However EULA's have long been shown to be not worth the paper they're on or the screen you read it from. In the specific case of the iPhone I can only speak for myself but I never had any EULA to agree to before I purchased the hardware.

      Does it make it right? I don't know as I'm no lawyer yet I do own the hardware and thus do have the right to do what I want to it. Should my alterations then cause service disruptions then that is another argument all together.

      But you ar eright – I do understand the why but I'm a cantankerous kind of person when folks tell me I'm not allowed to do something any other way.

  3. May 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    One perplexing thing to me is why we as consumers continue to choose and support platforms that make us criminals (especially as Christians). Wouldn't it just be better to buy a phone built on an open platform like Android and not be a criminal? Yes, you might miss some of the current apps from your iPhone. Yes, Android might be different or even not as good (at least for now). But at least you wouldn't have to break the law in order to do the things you should just be able to do when you purchase a piece of hardware?!

    You can complain about these bad policies or you can actually do something to change it with the choices you make. I've chosen to do the latter which is why I use free open source software whenever possible.

    Also, here is a little more background on copyright from the Free Software Foundation

    Kevin http://opensourcechurch.com
    My recent post Defective By Design: DRM Takes Away Your Rights

    • May 13, 2010 at 8:03 am #

      Maybe we pick them because we prefer the look / the style / the cred / what they offer / coolness factor / whatever?

      For myself I took a long time to pick on an iPhone. I considered the HTC mostly but in the end none of them offered the features I was after. Then when I had the unit and locked in to a contract I discover simple things couldn't be done – so personally I have taken steps to fix those issues.

      One of them is multi-tasking. I understand it's coming in OS4 – great, then if the other aspects are also addressed then I'm happy to unjailbreak.

      Thanks for the link but it's US Centric.

  4. May 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    btw, I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that the following is not correct:

    – Have you ever bought a CD and then copied t to tape or even your MP3 player? Yes. Then you’re a criminal.

    The courts have consistently ruled that copying between media types for backup or other purposes is not copyright infringement (to the entertainment industry's dismay). The debate started with tapes and has since been exacerbated with the digital revolution and file sharing networks. The debate is then…are you able after purchasing the media to post it in a public place, what is public defined as (a LAN or WAN), etc. Court cases are just starting to trickle through the system to help bring clarity to what is OK when you purchase digital media.

    Also, the following might be true:

    – Ever bought a DVD? Then ripped it to place on your media player? Guess what? … You’re a criminal.

    But only because you are inherently removing the DRM encryption mechanism (which is default on most commercial DVDs) in how the DVD was delivered (therefore you are modifying, not copying the DVD…this is the whole RealPlayer lawsuit question, I think). The licensing terms of DVDs does have more restrictions about copying that haven't been supported by court decisions…so while you might be breaking the law on paper it won't come to anything until there is a court decision validating them one way or another. Some of this is covered in my latest post about Digital Restrictions Management.

    Kevin http://opensourcechurch.com
    My recent post Defective By Design: DRM Takes Away Your Rights

    • May 13, 2010 at 8:11 am #

      Do note that I said "according to" and "alleged criminal" ;)

  5. June 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    btw, I ran across this summary of the DMCA that talks about some of the issues brought up in this article. It looks like they are submitting "jailbreaking" phones as an exemption to the DMCA policy this year.

    Kevin http://opensourcechurch.com
    My recent post Getting Free Templates For OpenOffice Presentations

    • June 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

      Coo – thanks for the update Kevin though (naturaly) it's US centric as is the DMCA.

      Typically the UK will follow where the US has gone – for good or bad.


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