December 6, 2006 | By Fred von Lohmann

TracFone Sues to Block Cellphone Unlocking Exemption

As we reported just before Thanksgiving, the Copyright Office and Library of Congress recently announced a set of new DMCA exemptions, including one that entitles a person to unlock a cellphone without worrying about DMCA liability.

Now prepaid wireless vendor TracFone has sued the Library of Congress to block the new exemption. According to the complaint, filed in federal court in Florida, the grant of the unlocking exemption

  • (1) violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because the Copyright Office refused to accept TracFone's late submissions;
  • (2) violates due process; and
  • (3) violates separation of powers because "the DMCA's delegation of rulemaking authority to the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office is an unconstitutional intra-branch delegation of Congress' legislative responsibilities."

I'll admit I'm intrigued by the third argument, but I imagine people at the Copyright Office are muttering "no good deed goes unpunished" over all this.


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