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White House Petition To Make Unlocking Phones Legal Passes 100,000 Signatures 317

Posted by timothy
from the one-view-of-freedom-of-choice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. 'It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.'"
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White House Petition To Make Unlocking Phones Legal Passes 100,000 Signatures

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  • by F34nor (321515) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:46AM (#42967525)

    Break them up or replace them with a state run monopoly. Discuss.

    • Option 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:54AM (#42967619)
      Create a new amateur license class, that allows individuals to run 4g networks; encourage cooperatives, meshes, and other citizen-run communications systems. Give the spectrum the carriers have to the people and let us manage our communications without relying on monopolies.
      • Re:Option 3 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Type44Q (1233630) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:10PM (#42967869)

        Give the spectrum the carriers have to the people

        We already own it - not that that's stopping these sociopathic parasites and their paid liars in Congress from renting it back to us at top dollar...

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:21PM (#42968059) Journal

      Because state-run monopolies are famous for low prices, excellent customer service, and being at the forefront of technological advance.

      • by keytoe (91531) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:12PM (#42969761) Homepage

        Because state-run monopolies are famous for low prices, excellent customer service, and being at the forefront of technological advance.

        My utilities board is a 'state run monopoly' and does a fantastic job of keeping prices low, customer service responsive and is constantly looking at new technical ways to save me even more money. They provide incentives to motivate people to adopt higher efficiency heating and insulation, driving overall demand down and reducing the environmental footprint of the entire community. A private company would have no incentive whatsoever to do any of that.

        I guess I don't see the advantage to having a corrupt corporation not looking out for me over a corrupt government not looking out for me. I can't change the corporation, but I can at least try to change the government. Both options seem to have roughly the same success rate overall, so why not support the one that gives me a voice?

    • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:15PM (#42971439)
      My opinion is that cellular service, the network/towers, and phones should be mutually exclusive. You buy your own phone, and can activate it on any carrier (supporting similar technology). If the carrier wishes to subsidize phones by giving you a loan for your phone purchase, they can. But you still have to buy the phone elsewhere. That way phone manufacturers compete purely on what their phones can do, regardless of what carrier you end up using it with.

      Likewise, the carriers would ink contracts with companies owning towers in a region to put together their own patchwork nationwide network (your phone already does this - it as a preferred roaming list saying which towers it's allowed to talk to). If they're unhappy with the coverage in a region, they can contract for more towers, or drop contracts for one company's towers in preference for another company's towers. That way people don't feel like they have to choose a specific carrier because they have the best physical tower network. And small startup carriers aren't forced to pay big carriers just to have access to towers.

      Finally the companies operating the towers would be competing with each other for the carriers as customers. If you put together a crappy tower network, the carriers won't contract with you or will negotiate for lower prices. If you put together a good tower network, they will be beating on the door with money in hand.

      The "carrier sells you the phones and owns the towers" was probably a necessary step to get past the chicken and egg stage of no phones and no towers without customers, no customers without phones and towers. But we're beyond that now and need to tweak the market to make it overcome the natural monopolistic tendencies of exclusive phones and towers, so it can operate more efficiently.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:48AM (#42967553)
    Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:00PM (#42967721) Homepage

      Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?

      In business, it's called a loss leader.

      But don't worry, they'll more than make up for it with the price gouging which takes place over the term of your contract.

      But, really, this comes down to "do I own the phone or does the phone company". If I own it, I should be able to do anything I want with it. If I don't own it, WTF am I doing paying for it?

      Right now companies want to have this mixed model where I pay for it, but they tell me what I can and can't do with it.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        In business, it's called a loss leader.

        Yeah, sure, unless the government doesn't like you, then it's called dumping.

        • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:43PM (#42968419) Homepage

          Yeah, sure, unless the government doesn't like you, then it's called dumping.

          Yeah, but that's only if you're undercutting your competition.

          Since the carriers are all doing the same thing, it's more like collusion.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Yeah, but that's only if you're undercutting your competition.

            They directly compete with everyone who sells phones at retail, which is why what they are doing is illegal, not that they will get busted so long as they play ball with the cops and give them all your personal information at the slightest request. The government is one big happy family of corporate malfeasance.

        • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:02PM (#42968727)

          In business, it's called a loss leader.

          Yeah, sure, unless the government doesn't like you, then it's called dumping.

          It's not that arbitrary. It's only dumping if you're not profiting from it. If I sell a bunch of stuff below cost and lose money in process which can only be recovered by raising my prices back up once my competitor is out of business...that's dumping. If I sell something below cost, but that strategy is causing me to actually profit more because it encourages the customers to buy something else from me, that's a loss leader. In the case of the mobile providers, they're causing you to buy into an overpriced contract. The subsidized phones are completely worth it to them.

          I don't have a problem with the subsidized phone model. I have a problem with the locked phone model. The contract is already keeping the customer with them for an agreed period of time. If they choose to leave earlier, they'd have to pay a contract cancellation fee in which the provider can recoup the cost of the phone subsidy. There's no valid justification for them to have any control over the hardware once I've purchased it.

      • by es330td (964170)

        But, really, this comes down to "do I own the phone or does the phone company". If I own it, I should be able to do anything I want with it. If I don't own it, WTF am I doing paying for it?

        I don't think this is completely the way to look at it. If a person got a discounted phone in return for signing a contract then it is kind of a joint ownership. It is akin to saying you "own" your house when you owe 80% of the value to a bank. You get full usage of an asset for which you didn't pay in full for by agreeing to pay for the rest over time. If you sell that asset you have to compensate the bank for the rest it is owed. It can be argued that the payments for the subsidy are unreasonable (I th

    • by F34nor (321515) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:01PM (#42967741)

      It is always cheaper to buy a congressman than to be a better business. Telcos are oligopolies; the worst form of business for the consumers. From that basic cluster fuck all other pain flows.

    • by ZipK (1051658)

      Why is the government protecting a business model that is based on selling equipment at a loss?

      Because they're not selling equipment at a loss. They're not even selling equipment - they're selling a bundle of equipment and a service contract. And the price of equipment + contract > the cost of equipment + service. And early termination fees protect their investment.

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:18PM (#42968009) Journal

        No, they're selling equipment. After 30 days, it's yours according to the contract - at least it is for the one I signed. I pay for the equipment, and the State agrees that it is a sale at the offered price - charging me sales tax. I have a service agreement which states if I choose not to keep the equipment I have to give it back for a full refund within the first 30 days, after 30 days, I am required to keep the phone.

        Nonetheless, you've just made the point that locking/unlocking is unnecessary. I quote, "And early termination fees protect their investment." Which is exactly the point - the contract with my provider states that I will keep in force a minimum level of service for 2 years in return for the reduced purchase price. If I break the contract , I owe them $350 (prorated per the schedule).

        Locking is an unnecessary and burdensome business practice which should be illegal, and is instead enforced as a result of a law which was - by it's nature - not intended to apply to physical transactions.

  • See the packages offered by companies in Canada. It's even worst up here. There's obvious collusion on prices and services offered and the CRTC doesn't do shit about it.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:50AM (#42967571) Homepage Journal

    The Obama administration, no matter how many accusations regarding some sort of "Socialism" get lobbed at it, is a *corporatist* White House. It's only slightly less corporatist than the Bush Jr and Clinton admins.

    Nothing will happen. The corporate cheerleaders and know nothings thinks this somehow protects corporations from the great unwashed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by F34nor (321515)

      Attack their strength was Karl Rove's motto, little has changed. Basically anything the right wing says in taking points is the opposite of what they believe. Truthiness is king.

      Remember economics is not a science.
      The US is oligopoly in natural monopolies.
      Regulation bows to the regulated.
      Cash is king.
      It is cheaper to buy a congressman than to fix your business.

      If one of those didn't answer your "why is this business fucking me" questions I'd love to know,

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Something might happen. People have short attention spans and are easily distracted by something shiny but worthless. Look at how Obama fooled people into thinking he was strong on civil rights by ending Don't Ask Don't Tell. One tiny concession to a small fraction of a small fraction of society, and he's the greatest civil rights leader of our generation. Forget how his administration treated Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake, etc. Forget how he never even tried to close Guantanamo. Forget how he signed a

      • by Velex (120469)

        Why did you feel you needed to bring up ending Don't Ask Don't Tell? How is that even a /civil/ right?

        I had considered enlisting when I was younger, but I didn't because I knew that the military would not be a friendly environment for me (read my other posts for why). Don't Ask Don't Tell didn't violate my civil rights.

        It was progress however.

        Obama's record on civil rights is clear. I would like to know why you felt you needed to bring Don't Ask Don't Tell into this.

        As you pointed out, what his administr

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Equal protection under the law isn't a civil right?

        • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:02PM (#42968723) Homepage

          Why did you feel you needed to bring up ending Don't Ask Don't Tell? How is that even a /civil/ right?

          How isn't it?

          They wouldn't kick someone out of the military for being black, brown, yellow, or purple ... for being Catholic or Muslim. But for being homosexual? Buh bye before they repealed DADT.

          One group of people passing a law saying another group of people shouldn't have a right because they say so is definitely a civil rights issue. Especially since the main objection is on religious grounds, since it uses your religion to discriminate against someone else.

          If someone tried to say churches shouldn't be considered charities for tax purposes, there would be a huge amount of whinging their religious freedom is being infringed -- and yet these people are often the first in line to try to limit the rights of others. You should be free to believe what you want, but I don't see why that should give you a tax break for it.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If someone tried to say churches shouldn't be considered charities for tax purposes, there would be a huge amount of whinging their religious freedom is being infringed -- and yet these people are often the first in line to try to limit the rights of others. You should be free to believe what you want, but I don't see why that should give you a tax break for it.

            It's not that churches shouldn't be considered charities for tax purposes, it's that they shouldn't automatically be considered charities for tax purposes. If they want to operate as a nonprofit, they should be required to file for nonprofit status like any other business, which could then be granted or denied based on their actual behavior. Treating them like any other business would rectify the government's unconstitutional recognition of specific religions by granting only some belief systems tax-exempt

    • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:28PM (#42969163) Homepage Journal

      I fully expect to see a response written by the CEO of Verizon.

  • "Why we can't comment on unlocking cell phones"
  • My vote counts! (Score:4, Informative)

    by buybuydandavis (644487) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:56AM (#42967661)

    Wheeeeee!

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:56AM (#42967663)

    Oh, you want it unlocked AND dirt cheap....Well, pick one.

    • What I want is this:
      1. I buy a phone
      2. I do whatever I want to it
      3. I tell other people about what I did

      What we have now is this:

      1. You buy a phone
      2. The government steps in and makes sure that the carriers' business model is not threatened by unlocking
      3. Dare to tell others how to unlock, or do it for them? Go directly to jail, the government collects your money.
      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:06PM (#42967821)

        No, what we have now is:

        You go to buy a phone
        Carrier offers you the unlocked version for $600 or the 2-year contract version for $150
        You buy the $150 model
        For the next two years you bitch and moan because you can't unlock the phone and switch carriers.

        • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:16PM (#42967985)

          Replace "for the next two years" with "for the next infinity years".

          The anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA makes it illegal to ever unlock the phone without the carrier's permission, regardless of whether the contract is up or not.

          • by crazyjj (2598719) *

            The major carriers will unlock after contract and the DMCA has a specific exclusion for legacy phones.

            And of course, once again, no one made you a slave to begin with. YOU agreed to the terms. YOU had the option to buy the more expensive unlocked version. YOU are the cheap-ass who decided to buy the subsidized one.

          • And not just that, but you still have to pay the damn contract even if you unlock the thing.

        • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:20PM (#42968043)

          Sure, but just to make sure we're clear on this point, when I sign that two-year contract, I actually bought the phone. I'm required to pay sales tax on the full, unsubsidized price of the phone up front. And if I bought the phone, I should be free to use it how I want. The contract is in place to make sure I don't jump carriers without adequately compensating my current one, and it already suffices. Why we need to add an additional technological roadblock that increases friction between switching carriers is beyond me.

          Actually, no, it's not. What the carriers want is to increase friction so that they can lock you in even after your contract is up, so it's no surprise things are this way. But the government stepped in a few years back to help ensure that phone numbers can be transferred between carriers, and they need to do the same here, ensuring that phones themselves can be transferred between carriers, barring any legitimate technological limitations.

          • by crazyjj (2598719) *

            I actually bought the phone.

            Yeah, just like you actually bought your house. But the mortgage company still makes you send them money each month, requires you carry insurance on it, and would be pretty pissed if you tried to burn it down.

            • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:35PM (#42968261)
              Except that you did not take out a loan to buy your phone. You bought it at the price the carrier offered. The law says you cannot unlock the phone regardless of your contract, even when your contract expires, even if you pay the carrier the extra fee to cancel the contract, even if the carrier goes out of business. Stop trying to pretend that people are being offered a fair deal here; a fair deal is one in which you can buy something and do whatever you want with it.
              • by crazyjj (2598719) *

                a fair deal is one in which you can buy something and do whatever you want with it.

                Yeah, that's called BUYING AN UNLOCKED PHONE, and you can do it at pretty much any carrier (and on just about any model phone) in the U.S.

                • Or we could not have the government come in and say, "Sell phones as loss leaders, and we'll make sure your strategy works!" Why do you think the carriers should get such privileged treatment from the government?
                  • by crazyjj (2598719) *

                    They're not getting privileged treatment. Enforcing civil contracts is one of the primary functions of government and has been since the Romans were still enjoying gladiator matches.

                • a fair deal is one in which you can buy something and do whatever you want with it.

                  Yeah, that's called BUYING AN UNLOCKED PHONE, and you can do it at pretty much any carrier (and on just about any model phone) in the U.S.

                  No, because what you seem to have missed is that merely offering additional options does not make existing ones any less unfair.

                  If Ford cars had GPS units that turned off the engine when you tried to drive on the 70% of roads Ford doesn't like, that would be unfair. If they later offered a car at a higher price with the GPS unit turned off, that doesn't suddenly make their first car any more fair. If anything, it'd be extortion.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:25PM (#42968131)

          I still don't see why a phone on contract should be locked. In the UK I could buy a subsidised phone with a contract and move it between carriers as much as I want. Of course I would still be under my contract with the original carrier and have to keep up those payments (or pay an early cancellation fee) regardless of what I do with the phone.

    • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:04PM (#42967783)
      When you buy a phone via a contract, over the term of that contract you pay for the discount (and more). Therefore, even if you purchase a locked phone, after the contract is up it would be fair to allow it to be unlocked. In fact, since breaking a contract and switching companies is always accompanied by a large fee, "dirt cheap" never applies. The only situation in which an unlocked phone would be useful as a current customer is travel. And in that case you are still a current customer, so the phone company is still getting their desired value for the phone.
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:16PM (#42968963) Homepage Journal

        Therefore, even if you purchase a locked phone, after the contract is up it would be fair to allow it to be unlocked.

        There is no reason why it is fair to have to wait for the contract to be up. The phones should be unlocked automatically by law once you pass the point where you can no longer return the phone for a refund. You are financially obligated to pay for that phone from the moment they get it. They have the right to sue for a judgment against you from the moment you sign the contract and fail to make a payment. You own that phone, and in exchange you agree to give money. If you do not give the money, why does that give them the right to keep your phone locked? It only reasonably gives them the right to seek return of the phone (for a refund, of course) or a judgment against you for the value of the phone, at which point you own the phone outright and they should be forced to unlock it. In exchange for the phone, they own a judgment against you.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      What I want is the government out of the business of protecting private contracts. Where do I sign up for free government lawyers?

      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        What I want is the government out of the business of protecting private contracts.

        Uh, that's one of the primary functions of the entire U.S. civil court system, and has been for hundreds of years now.

    • by rtkluttz (244325)

      This argument is always brought up but it is BS. Cancel your contract early and you pay full price, run to the end of the term and you've paid full price subisidized by the super high monthly bills we have in the US. Either way we paid full price and their our phones. I'll do whatever I like with my equipment.

      Also someone further up mentioned loss leaders in business. If Ace Hardware offers me trash bags and garden hoses at a 20% loss just to get me in the store in hopes that I buy something else while I'm

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Or go to Europe, where phone unlocking is almost without exception available from your own network provider for a token fee.

  • Can the White House even do anything in this particular issue? After all, the Library of Congress, as the name implies, reports to Congress and the Legislative Branch and not to the President and the Executive. Certainly the White House could try and lobby Congress to push a change, but given the current relationship between those two branches of government, I don't think there's much incentive to play nice.
  • Official Response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And the official response will be: "We'll do whatever we want. We don't work for you." Just like all the rest of these petitions.

  • That and $5 will get you a cup of coffee, big deal.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:06PM (#42967817)
    Is anyone tracking how many of these petitions result in actual policy change? It seems most get a canned response explaining the Administration's position. I don't recall any responses that said, "that's a good idea, we'll go do it" or "we've added that to our legislative agenda."
    • by Talennor (612270)

      The attention is pretty effective for 100K people. What are you looking for? Immediate policy changes? 100K isn't exactly a majority (150M is!).

      • by SirGarlon (845873)
        Depends on the scope of the petition. For things like reforming Social Security I am not expecting a policy decision to get made based on 100K signatures. For much narrower issues like this one, where the executive branch has authority to act without consulting Congress, I think we deserve an answer more like "The President has passed your petition along to the Librarian of Congress and directed him to reconsider this regulatory change. You can expect a press release explaining his final decision within 90
      • by Hatta (162192)

        A majority of Americans [gallup.com] now favor legalizing Cannabis. A petition asking for Cannabis reform got 75,000 signatures(and was summarily dismissed by Obama). A signature that got 100,000 signatures is like to have even more support among the general public.

  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:10PM (#42967859) Homepage

    On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S

    I don't have a big problem with that, but this is the really important part:

    As of January 26, consumers will no longer be able unlock their phones for use on a different network without carrier permission, even after their contract has expired.

  • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:12PM (#42967897)

    Seriously, Obama talks a great game about a transparent government by the people, for the people.

    But from what I can tell, the petition website is, at best, a case of him failing to follow through on his aspirations. At worst, it's meant to give the American public a false sense of being listened to.

    • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:20PM (#42969865) Journal

      No, he's being very transparent about how government works. What better sign of how government will ignore petitions than to setup an official web site to collect them just to ignore them? As for "by the people, for the people", you're just not one of "the people" [that matter] unless you have money and political connections--or can be used for political gain.

  • Pointless? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Have any petitions posted on http://petitions.whitehouse.gov ever resulted in legislation/legal/governmental changes?

    I've seen the site posted a few times on /. but always discarded it as some pointless area for people to vent or make entertaining posts to. Making some White House PR group respond to a petition is one thing but does anything useful actually happen after a significant response? I'm asking earnestly because I honestly haven't followed it.

    If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

    I interpret that as: White House PR staff will read it,

  • by ggpauly (263626) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:24PM (#42968119) Homepage

    The industry argument I've heard is this: "Consumers" (ie, people) buy phones at a discount with multiyear contracts. This pricing scheme was developed by the industry to trick people (it's easier if you think of them as soulless "consumers") into continuing to pay the corporation despite abusive customer service, poor service, and fraud such as inaccurate coverage maps. Then the industry turns around -- pretending as if they've given a gift to the "consumers" who are living, breathing people with lives and kids and jobs and problems, sometimes involving money and cell phones -- and claim that they, the corporations, deserve to be rewarded by keeping control of the phone in violation of the common understanding of what "sell" and "own" mean.

    And the Librarian of Congress somehow agrees.

    Secondly, the regulated freedom from last year's Congressional Librarian decision seemed to be having an effect - why then reverse the decision?

    Lastly, we should recall that corporations are _not_ free enterprise by definition - they are given special government dispensations to protect their owner(s) against liability. We (people) ultimately pay this price - a hidden tax. Corporations must be held to a particularly high level of good citizenship or their grants of liability immunity should be revoked. Else they will treat us (people) as objects that provide money to them, as a herbivore treats plants.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:39PM (#42968343)
    I know there's a handful of companies (one of which I'll be switching too soon) that advertise unlocking your phone and joining their cheaper service.
    But hey, they're not the big 4, so what does the government care, right?
  • And that's when we're burning down D.C. with pitchforks and torches. Unfortunately, we're sheep and will never do that. We're afraid of our government, when our government should be afraid of us -- which is why this country is finished, done, kaput. The only people that matter are the 1%, and they are running the show. We do not matter at all, the USA is simply a giant Ponzi Scheme.

  • This is no different than those petitions demanding some "human right" to check in luggage at no additional cost. it's a pathetic populist grab that ignores the fact that market forces exist. by limiting the ability of companies to offer (or not) locked/unlocked baggage included/baggage extra you're basically damning the mobile market to the "low cost" of actually-quite-expensive Southwest vs the actually low cost of RyanAir....

    oh, and before all of you pipe in saying how mobiles are cheap in europe beca

  • /facepalm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:18PM (#42969001) Journal

    What sort of consensual delusion is it that makes people continue to believe the "Whitehouse Petitions" mean SHIT?

    Yes, Derek Khanna just mentioned it. Hooray. They hit 100k signatures.

    But please: point to a SINGLE THING that the stupid "petition" website has started, stopped, or otherwise changed?*

    *except to prompt some White House drone to hit the button 'generate response email': "Thank you for your interest in (issue). Please be assured that the (current president) administration takes your concern, and those of your other petitioners very seriously. President (current president) has reviewed the situation regarding (issue) closely with a team of experts and while you raise important concerns, feels that we should continue on the current policy course. Once again, thanks for your concern, (current president) appreciates your engagement on (issue)."

    Phht, and people say that religion is dying. If this isn't a demonstration of naked, unsupported faith, I'm not sure what is.

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      But please: point to a SINGLE THING that the stupid "petition" website has started, stopped, or otherwise changed?*

      Marijuana policy. We put up a bunch of petitions in favor of decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, and the Obama admistration changed its policies. Some will argue, I'm sure, that the change was the opposite of what we were asking for. That instead of reducing penalties they increased enforcement to its highest level ever, shutting down more state authorized businesses in California

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:46PM (#42969457) Homepage Journal

    People should examine how DMCA is involved at all, or why an exemption is needed.

    Even if you take a hopelessly naive view of the purpose of DMCA's circumvention prohibition, even if you think it's a good idea to use force against everyone in order to address the 0.0001% case where someone accesses a movie for infringing purposes -- this scenario is still abuse of that law, roughly comparable to the Lexmark ink cartridge case.

    On an optical disc containing an encrypted movie, the "work" whose access is limited by a technological measure, is the movie.

    On a printer ink cartridge, or a mobile phone, the "work" whose access is limited by a technological measure, is ... hey, waitaminute! It's some kind of weird normally-not-copyrightable thing. Ink, really? Access to a network?! Even if you put all cynicism aside and read DMCA at face value, are you telling me Congress passed that law, for the purpose of granting vertical monopolies to product-tie terminals to networks?! Even if you get more realistic and say DMCA was to product-tie content with players, that purpose still doesn't apply to the phone situation.

    The LoC's decision to not exempt phones, was purely malignant and indefensible. But even so, an exemption isn't enough of a correction. DMCA needs to be fixed so that it at least stops being so broad that it's applicable to the phone situation. Propose that to Congress, Mr. President. (Better yet, just toss the circumvention-prohibition crap altogether; if you do that, then everyone (consumers and also copyright holders) will win. But maybe learning the lessons of the last 15 years, is too much to expect this time around.)

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.

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