After this upcoming weekend, you have to ask your phone company if you want to use the phone you (kind of) bought from them on any other carrier’s network. You used to be able to ask for, or purchase, or hack your way to an “unlocked” phone, but that will be illegal after Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.
The Librarian of Congress believes cellphone companies are doing a good enough job of fostering competition in their market, so the era of third-party unlocking is coming to a close.
Back in October 2012, the Librarian of Congress was asked by the Register of Copyrights to examine the exemptions made for certain classes of work under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. I know what you may be thinking. “This Librarian, and this Register—do they live in giant vine-strewn towers? Do have any special powers if they leave Washington?” That is a good question, but first we must address other things.