Unlocking Consumer Choice And Wireless Competition Act Joins Fight Against Unlocking Ban

Congress has yet another option on the table to fix the hotly discussed issues with the unlocking ban provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, which was interpreted by the Library of Congress recently.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) threw his hat into the Senators-Who-Want-To-Allow-Phone-Unlocking ring on Monday evening, with the introduction of his bill, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which was co-sponsored by senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Leahy’s bill is set up to basically give the Library of Congress a redo on the controversial decision last October that sparked the whole outrage.

The bill rolls back the interpretation of the DMCA provision to the one from July 2010 and gives the Library of Congress a year to rethink its decision and come up with a better one.

Two other bills were proposed last week by other senators: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) with the Wireless Device Independence Act and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) with the Wireless Consumer Choice Act.

Twitter user @sinak, Sina Khanifar, who started the petition to overturn the Library of Congress decision that managed to prompt the recent White House response and place the issue on minds inside the D.C. beltway, thinks the newest bill has the best chance of any proposed so far, since it comes from the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is in charge of such rules. But he is also disappointed that the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“While it's great that Senator Leahy and Rep. Goodlatte believe that unlocking should be exempted from the DMCA, unfortunately the bill doesn't go far nearly enough,” Khanifar said. “At best it is a very temporary fix to an ongoing problem.”

Chris Lewis, vice president of government affairs for the communications freedom advocacy group PublicKnowledge, shares a similar view.

"We're glad that Chairman Leahy recognizes that the Library of Congress' decision was untenable,” Lewis said. “However, this only serves as, at best, a three-year band-aid on the larger problem. Furthermore, the bill does not require that the Library reach a different decision on unlocking.
Public Knowledge supports legislation that permanently codifies an exemption for unlocking, and a broader discussion around further reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention provisions that created this problem in the first place."

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