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Cell phone ‘victory’ for US recyclers

United States – US president Barack Obama’s signing of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act has been hailed as ‘a victory not only for recyclers, but consumers and the environment’ by the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Previously, electronics manufacturers and telecommunication carriers wielded the power of copyright to control access to information necessary to unlock, refurbish and resell used technological devices. The new law restores the legal right for recyclers and refurbishers to bulk unlock used cell phones for refurbishment and resale.

ISRI president Robin Wiener comments: ‘Copyright law should not stand in the way of advances in the legitimate reuse of cell phones and tablets or prevent innovations and competitive uses for such devices.’ When the US House of Representatives passed its version of the bill allowing unlocking, it prohibited bulk unlocking by recyclers and refurbishers – thus ‘discouraging proper repair and reuse of devices’, according to ISRI.

The institute and its members subsequently worked with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to include recyclers and refurbishers in the final version of the legislation signed by the president. ‘The new law now removes the competitive disadvantage to recyclers and refurbishers in the marketplace,’ says ISRI.

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