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Apple's latest iPhone moves may have earned it a new class-action law suit--Apple's answer: purchase a new iPhone.

As reported on DailyTech, Apple Inc. disabled unlocked iPhones with its Firmware 1.1.1 update by putting them into activation limbo.  The unlocked phones could not make any calls until activated with a valid AT&T card and iTunes.  Even then, the phones would sometimes still be locked, according to preliminary reports.  Apple covered its bases, by providing a "slide for emergency" option which allows users to make 911 calls on their newly-bricked iPhone.

While many users simply are not going to install the update or are hoping for a cracked version of the patch to be released, some are seeking legal avenues to fight Apple's strike on the modding/hacking/homebrew community.

On Saturday, posts by user myndex appeared in Apple's iPhone Forums, proposing three groupings of users who could seek legal action and calling for users whose iPhones were rendered inoperable to contact the poster with answers to a list of questions detailing their iPhone situation.

The posts were taken down relatively quickly, but screenshots were posted here [1][2].  Additionally, a quick search reveals that Myndex is a tech and research group that appears to use Macintosh computers.  Whether the owner of the Apple forums handle is associated with this group is unknown.

Apple has protected itself by including a large amount of legal phrasing in its packaging, instruction manuals, and online materials, warning users against unlocking their iPhones, which they say violates their contract.

Noah Funderburg, an assistant dean at the University of Alabama School of Law, was quoted as saying. "Anyone who hacks must know that they are taking certain risks," Funderburg told the paper. "If they aren’t willing to assume the risks upfront--like a brick iPhone--then maybe they should not hack the device."

Jennifer Bowcock, an Apple spokeswoman indicated that Apple was unapologetic about the situation. "The inability to use your phone after making unauthorized modifications isn’t covered under the iPhone warranty. If the damage was due to use of an unauthorized software application, voiding their warranty, they should purchase a new iPhone,” said Bowcock

In some cases Apple appears to have not only killed unlockers, but those who simply were participating in the homebrew/3rd-party applications community.  Ross Good, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had not expected to be affected as he had only installed a couple of seemingly harmless third party applications, including one for instant messaging.  After updating, he found his phone returned to the activation screen and would not activate, though he had a valid AT&T contract.  His phone is now among the growing number of phones "bricked" by the update.

No word was received from Apple on what its stance was on the damage done by its updates to non-unlocked users.

Apple is likely to face increased scrutinity, as well as possible legal assaults following its attack on unlockers.  It appears that many, including even non-unlockers were affected by the update.  Apple's is entirely unapologetic to those affected.  Their answer--get a new iPhone.


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RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By kyp275 on 10/1/2007 12:09:39 PM , Rating: 3
ah, but then modding cars are not limited to hardware only, there are plenty of software modding you can do with the ECU ;)

provided you op to go for flashing the factory ECU instead of getting a whole aftermarket ECU, that is.


RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By mdogs444 on 10/1/2007 12:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
And flashing your CPU also voids the warranty of your car.


RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By kyp275 on 10/1/2007 12:27:55 PM , Rating: 2
I know, but I'm just responding to the modding car being all "hardware" comment :)

frankly though, unlocking an iphone and modding a car's ECU are on two entirely different level.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that the "locking program"(or equivalent) for the iPhone is just that, a small part of the firmware dedicated to locking the phone. While the ECU for a car controls EVERY vital engine/transmission operations, it's a modification at the fundamental level.

With that being said, if you mod your ECU, and your suspension / brake goes out, it's still covered by warranty, as those two components are not related to the ECU at all.


RE: Legality - Apple will lose
By mdogs444 on 10/1/2007 1:17:49 PM , Rating: 2
Actaully, someone on here stated that it was true - regarding cars being modified.

But after researching, and reading my Audi warranty, that is entirely false.

If you modify the engine, you forfeit the entire warranty on the automobile, not just a specific "part" of the warranty.

You purchase a whole car, and they expect the entire car to maintain its stock standards.

But im fairly certain that the firmware does more than just lock the phone, its probably a sort of driver for all the hardware on the device.


By theapparition on 10/1/2007 3:43:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But after researching, and reading my Audi warranty, that is entirely false.

Nope,
The OP is completely correct. I know this with 100% certainty. The M&M has got you covered. I've been through it many times. They "legally" cannot deny you warranty coverage if that "mod" was not a resonable cause of failure. Your audi book can say whatever it wants, but the law is very clear. I quoted legally because there is a way for them to weasel out of it below.

If you add a turbo, or any other mods, they can't deny fixing unrelated things like the power windows. They can argue that they are not going to cover the transmission, because the engine now puts undue stress on it. That decision rests with the dealer and district warranty manager. As an aside, most dealers don't care, they are getting paid to do the work, but things get sticky when it's a big repair and the district rep has to approve it.

For example, let say you put a sunroof in your car. It's been modded, so they can't deny engine repairs. What if you put non-OEM wiper blades on, does that void your warranty??? Well, you've modded the car, but of course it doesn't void anything. Do you see where I'm going, what defines a "mod". How far do you take a "mod" to be denied warranty. The M&M clearly states that all parts of the vehicule, not directly affected by the mod must be covered.

Now, that's the law. 100% gospel rule of the American land. But here's the weasel part. In most businesses it is common practice to deny warranty coverage and make you fight for it. If you do fight it, you will win, hands down, but it will most likely cost more than the repair, and years of hassle.

I know plenty of people who have fought and won, but also had to go through the hassle. Most say it wasn't worth it in the end. I've been lucky, I've never been denied warranty coverage, even pushing 1000hp on my 02 Corvette, which is still under extended GM warranty. They even replaced an engine and 2 trannys under that! Damn I'm good!

My friend was at a dealership service department, and happened to leave when the service manager and district rep were leaving. They came to a light together, and he thought it was a good idea to do a 4k RPM launch and light the tires up. The district manager immediately ordered his warranty canceled, even though no claim had been made, just for his driving habits. Everything was OK in the end, with the service manager sticking up for my friend. But goes to show you they can cancel without any reason.

Seriously though, you "legally" cannot be denied warranty coverage for making changes to your car. I'm not sure how this parlays into the iPhone discussion, I would think (just my guess) is that making the entire phone un-workable for a firmware change that is supposed to be legal supported by the DMCA, that would be illegal.


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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