AT&T cites support for unlocking handsets provided conditions are met

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 13:17
Category: iPhone, News

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This might make things easier.

Per TechHive and AT&T’s company blog, in the wake of efforts being made by consumers, politicians and the the top librarian at the Library of Congress to permit unlocking your own mobile phone is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), AT&T has gone on the record to state that the company won’t impede these efforts and will assist where possible.

“I want to be completely clear that AT&T’s policy is to unlock our customers’ devices if they’ve met the terms of their service agreements and we have the unlock code,” vice president Joan Marsh wrote in a company blog posted Friday entitled “Bottom Line: We Unlock Our Customers’ Devices.”

“It’s a straightforward policy, and we aim to make the unlocking process as easy as possible,” she added.

Marsh explained that the company will unlock a customer’s phone as long as the carrier can obtain the unlock code for the device and the phone’s owner has had an active account with AT&T for at least 60 days, the account is in good standing, and there’s no unpaid balance on it.

“If the conditions are met, we will unlock up to five devices per account per year,” Marsh wrote.

AT&T will not unlock devices that have been reported stolen, though.

The carrier’s unlock policy is consistent with the one aired by the White House in a response to an electronic petition criticizing last year’s ruling that phone unlocking was illegal. That petition garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

“The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties,” wrote R. David Edelmen, White House senior advisor for Internet, innovation and privacy, wrote in the Obama administration’s official response to the petition.

“[I]f you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network,” he added.

“It’s common sense,” he continued, “crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent explores loan, resale features for DRM-protected content

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, retail, Software

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This could get fairly interesting, as well as get around some parts of DRM that, well, NOBODY likes.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recently published patent application details of an exhaustive Apple invention covering the resale and loan of owned digital content like e-books, music and movies, possibly portending an upcoming addition to iTunes.

The patent is outlined in three divisional applications, each titled “Managing access to digital content items,” with two filed in September of 2011, and one in June of 2012. From the most recent filing, Apple describes a system that manages the authorized transfer of owned digital content between end-users. The invention is basically a system that allows purchasers to sell or loan “used” content to other people.

Interestingly, Amazon was recently granted a patent for a nearly identical system, though the online retailer’s solution calls for a centralized marketplace while Apple’s is largely distributed. Amazon first filed for its property in 2009.

Apple’s filing provides for the authorized access to digital content, otherwise known as digital rights, to be transferred from one user to another. As an example, a first user may purchase an e-book from the iBookstore and later decide to sell that content to a second user. The original owner notifies the store that they want to sell the item, and if certain criteria are met, the user is allowed to transfer rights to the second buyer. Content itself may or may not change hands, but more importantly the rights attached to said content is managed so that the first user can no longer access the content once it is sold.

The invention decentralizes the process by taking the online store out of the equation:

“Alternatively, instead of a third party determining whether one or more criteria are satisfied, the first (or second) user’s device makes the determination and may be responsible for preventing the first user’s device from further consuming the digital content item. In some embodiments, the online store and/or the publisher of the digital content item may receive a portion of the proceeds of the transfer.”

It should be noted that the content need not reside permanently, or at all, on a user’s device, meaning the system can be cloud-based.

Key to the system’s operation is ownership history. As the “used” content is passed from one user to the next, a database is established so that the proper owner is allowed access to the item and can then choose to transfer those rights to yet another party.

Transferral of authorized access can be device-to-device through an intermediary like an online store, device-to-device without an intermediary, meaning verification must be established at a later time. In another embodiment, no device-to-device transfer is necessary.

Restrictions of transfer are a means to manage the flow of content between end users and can be set by the publisher. For example, a certain e-book may not be resold within a six month period and must have a resale price of at least US$5. The restrictions can be set on a timed basis, frequency of transfer, price and to whom the content is sold.

Proceeds are also discussed, with publishers or content makers sometimes granted rights to a portion of the resale value. These percentages are based on time and how many transfers have been completed for a particular item. Gifting is also supported, with proceeds for these transfers split between the end user and publisher.

Other embodiments deal with temporary transfers, partial transfers, delayed transfers and loans.

Eliza C. Block and Marcel Van Os are credited as inventors of all three applications, while E. Caroline F. Cranfill, Alan C. Cannistraro, William M. Bachman and Timothy B. Martin were added to the list for one of the 2011 filings.

Google Chrome updated to 25.0.1364.160

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 07:52
Category: News, security, Software

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You can’t fault a company for regularly updating its software.

On Friday, Google released version 25.0.1364.160 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 48.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- [Fixed] High CVE-2013-0912: Type confusion in WebKit.

Google Chrome 25.0.1364.160 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 19.0.2 update

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 07:33
Category: News, Software

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Hey, an update’s an update.

On Friday, Mozilla.org released version 19.0.2 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 39.6 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

- Security-driven release: [Fixed] Use-after-free in HTML Editor.

Firefox 19.0.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.