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Government sides with well-intentioned gadget hackers

Iphone-earWant to take a locked cellphone from AT&T to T-Mobile? It's not always easy, but at least it's legal, according to new federal rules announced Monday.

The Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright Office, issued a set of exemptions to a 1998 law outlawing customers from circumventing digital security measures put in place by device manufacturers.

The rules now say you can freely unlock a phone for use on another carrier, as well as deploy a method called "jailbreaking" for running unauthorized software on a smart phone. Let's say Apple doesn't want you using an application to record phone calls, and so the company bars those types of programs from its App Store. A jailbroken iPhone could do it.

For some other hacks you are now legally allowed to perform -- relating to DVDs, e-books and video games -- head over to our friends at the Technology blog for more on electronic locks.

-- Mark Milian

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Photo: A man holds an iPhone 4 in Berlin. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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