By Keerthi Chandrashekar / ( | First Posted: Jan 26, 2013 12:18 AM EST

(Photo : Google)

It's official. You can't unlock your smartphones anymore in the United States - at least not legally. In what is already brewing as a controversial decision, the Library of Congress ' Register of Copyrights passed a law stating that it is against the law to unlock a smartphone without a carrier's permission. 

The law, which was passed back in October, goes into effect today, Jan. 26, after its 90-day grace period, and is based off the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that came about in 1998. 

"Having duly considered and accepted the Recommendation of the Register of Copyrights that the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to copyrighted works shall not apply to persons who engage in noninfringing uses of certain classes of copyrighted works, the Librarian of Congress is exercising his authority to publish a new rule designating classes of copyrighted works that shall be subject to statutory exemption," reads the opening summary of the official decision

The new types of devices the summary refers to includes cellphones, and the Library of Congress states that there are plenty of unlocked devices available to consumers out there. 

Still, the decision is bound to irk many Americans. Carrier-tied cellphones are incredibly popular here in the States, despite the strangling feeling that comes with a two-year contract. Unlocking phones to work on other networks is popular, and without the ability to do so, is bound to make many buyers think carefully about which network they are plunging into. 

You can sign a White House petition to make unlocking phones legal in the United States here

What do you think of the new law? Is it fair, or do you have a better solution to please both the carriers and consumers?

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