The Apple Cat and the Fanboy Mouse: Unlocking the Apple iPhone

June 16, 2012

Currently, Apple forces owners of the iPhone to use AT&T’s wireless network through software contained in the phone’s operating system. The practice of “unlocking” the Apple iPhone for use over any compatible wireless network raises an interesting legal question. Specifically, this Comment considers this question through analysis of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), the Carterfone doctrine, and case law interpreting the DMCA within the context of existing copyright law. This analysis supports the conclusion that any unlocking of the iPhone that preserves the existing contractual relationship between Apple and AT&T does not violate Apple’s copyright interest in the iPhone.